Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America 

We invited East Bay residents to share their thoughts and words. Here's what they had to say.

Page 5 of 7

Hours earlier, she cried as she reflected on the news conference given by the widow of Alton Sterling, in which their fifteen-year-old son wept uncontrollably in front of the press.

"That could be one of my brothers, my father" she says in between tears.

"That could be you."

Undoubtedly, she is correct. Over the course of this year, the violence toward Black men by the police force has orchestrated civil unrest amongst the Black community. Voices, protests have all been passed amongst the general public as episodic pantomimes that in turn result in more confusion, in more heartbreak.

I clear my throat and answer her question.

"I do."

She looks at me with eyes that are wise beyond her years. She is a modern woman, paving her way in a world that offers her neglect, racism, and opportunities that come with a price of your sanity. I, a gay male, resonate with this oppression, because we've been marginalized in a contemporary society that preaches tolerance but crushes our hopes with unimaginable violence.

"I think there is life outside this Earth," she tells me, as she scrolls through her Facebook.

"I think those people who inhabit other planets behave better than we do. The humans here are at the bottom (she pauses) ... of the food chain".

She clicks on a live video that within minutes has gone viral. I move in closer to watch the aftermath of the murder of Philando Castile. His girlfriend praying over his body, the child who was exposed to such atrocious trauma.

At this point neither one of us has anything to say. I ask myself: Will any of this ever end?

Josiah DeCarlo

Berkeley


A Black Culture in Mourning

Dear America: Perhaps you may have forgotten my permission to exist within the grips of your unfavorable realm of democracy that has dissolved into ashes of Black bodies beaming from caskets, engraved in the soil in which we once were told to stand proudly on. Today, I am trying to align my right mind with reason, and find any piece of remembrance in which I was supposed to believe in your "Country Tis of Thee," while laying little Black boys, and Black fathers, to rest at the hands of the fear in which cripples your disposition to allow my blackness the freedom to be.

Once again, I am reminded of your stench: your fallacy to encumber my burdens, my sorrows, my daily infraction of simply being Black, when shadows and mere drops of melanin make you jump outside of your skin. Yesterday, I wept for Tamir Rice, and toy guns that bothered you, when the mere sight of Black adolescence made you self-destruct, and being birthed from my mother's womb was the tipping point for Black lives to matter. We watched as you pumped bullets into bodies that cried out like whispers gone mad, gasping for last breaths, heart beats erupting, hearing communities weep, while hovering over mothers that cry for futures that will forever remain skewed. No longer can we sit idle and be the docile creatures you expect us to be. Because we are more.

Since boat rides across Atlantic seas; whether our worth be rooted in "I Have A Dream Speeches" or Black hoodies. More, than minstrel shows and puppets for propaganda. Basketballs and Baby Daddy syndromes you think define us. Know that we are more. And, tomorrow, I would like to awake knowing that, should I bring life into this world, it will grow up past eighteen birthdays and bear future grandsons and daughters that will never have to wonder how beautiful their Black is. Or be afraid to walk the streets in their own skin because you quiver at its glimmer of magic.

My skin should never cause you to forget that before I am Black, I am human. And so I ask of you today to see me as more. Because we have always been. And will forever be. Sincerely, A Black Culture in Mourning

Tamesha Danyelle Price

Oakland


Turning the Mirror

Scrolling through my Facebook on July 7, 2016, I read a multitude of posts responding to the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. My friends and acquaintances, most of them white, most of them college educated and middle-class, all expressed outrage, anger, frustration, and sadness. But one in particular caught my attention because it began with the sentence, "I'm in disbelief."

The trouble is, the premise of the sentence, as well as most of the white responses I have read to the killings of Black and brown people by police, is that these killings suspend one's belief in a system that many of us think can work. The reality is that the murders of Sterling and Castile, as well as others whose names we've learned to recall, as well as thousands of names who will forever remain unknown to us, is merely the expression of a system that is predicated on the violent erasure of Black lives. We don't want to believe the system, and the police who uphold that system, is functioning as it was designed to function.

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