Next Time It Could Be Me

Before I Start My Poem I Want To Say…

For my first post here, I had so much to say. It was long, and it was an attempt to be thoughtful with the race relations in this country, but it was also angry.

I am angry. I am hurt. I am terrified. As a black man in this country, I am terrified that every time I leave the house, I will be the next hashtag. I am terrified that my son will find out from his mother that six hundred miles away, his father died at the hands of prejudiced law enforcement. That I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or worse yet, I am the subject of the police being weaponized against me because of the color of my skin, and there would be no justice.

Hell, I’m terrified that my eleven-year-old son, one year younger than Tamir Rice, could be the next victim. He is a beautiful boy that is growing to become a wonderful young man. He has a heart larger than this entire planet, plus five Jupiters. I’m terrified that in the next few years I could lose him because someone sees him and just makes an assumption about him based on a racial bias at best, and racial hatred at worse. They see him and they weaponize the police onto him. And this beautiful child is gone in an instant to never return. Yes. I have a constant worry about this. And worse yet, those that weaponize the police and the weapons that would take him from me would never suffer consequences for their actions. Yes. I am terrified of this.

I make the mistake of going on social media and I see people posting their statistics to try and minimize the pain of the black community. ‘Oh, but the police kill more white people than black people! And black people are the most violent!’

Seriously? I just can’t anymore. Here’s the advertised content…

Next Time, It Could Be Me

Dear White Friend,
I won’t lie I’m mad as hell!
I’m sick and tired of seeing people that look like me
lose their lives!
We’ve made our jokes,
we’ve built our bond,
but I have to say it’s so painful
to see people that look like you
kill people that look like me
with outright impunity.
I don’t blame you personally, no not at all.
Brother and sister, we good right?
We’ve had beers.
We’ve had meals.
We’ve celebrated births.
We’ve celebrated sports.
We’ve been to weddings.
We’ve been through a lot.
We’ve beaten the odds,
that’s a damn fact.
Our ancestors never did what we do,
it wasn’t in their cards.
But now I need your help,
now more than ever.
Be my friend, my brother, my sister, now!
Show me the love that you say you feel!
It’s not enough to be in a rage alongside me,
or to yell and shout and shake your fists with me.
Please do these things.
I need to see you angry with me.
I need to see you ready to fight with me.
But that’s the easy part.
I need more.
I need your fight to go further,
to be furious even when I’m not around
even when you’re in your own home,
your own mind.
Among your other friends that look like you,
your family,
your coworkers,
your family’s friends,
their families,
their co-workers even.
When you’re around folks that look like you,
stand up for me there.
Fight for me there.
When they make a joke about people that look like me,
take it as they’re making the joke about me.
And stand up for me.
When they speak foul
when they speak wrong
if they degrade people that look like me,
take it as they’re speaking foul,
they’re speaking wrong,
that they’re degrading me.
All lives matter.
That includes my black life.
My black life matters.
If my black life mattered,
there wouldn’t be the need to chant,
‘Black Lives Matter’.
Tell them that.
Don’t let them deflect with ‘All Lives Matter’.
Because obviously they don’t.
Philando Castiel didn’t matter.
Tamir Rice didn’t.
George Floyd didn’t.
Atatiana Jefferson didn’t.
And that is only four names.
And if you, my white friend,
somewhere in your mind wonder what those names have to do with me?
Just think the next incident,
it could be me.

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Bryan Tann

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