Open Letter Regarding The Jacob Blake Shooting

To Whom This May Concern,

I’m sorry you are reading another Black lives matter rant. I know you are tired of hearing about it and seeing it on your timeline. I know you don’t want to unfollow me because you don’t want to come off as racist, but at the same time, you’re trying to protect your mental health. I get it. I wish I were desensitized to these murders or attempted murders, but I’m not. I don’t get to escape the trauma. 

The trauma changes form from social media posts and reposts to ignorant and unempathetic statements that pose in the form of questions when I get to work. I am learning to manage the ignorance I deal with at work. I’ve recently moved my break location to avoid more awkward questions that not even politicians can answer. But I guess I should stop writing because you probably stopped reading after you saw Black lives matter in the first line. You’ve already scrolled past this rant, uncompassionately, but  I shouldn’t take it personally.

I’m sure I am not your only Black friend, but I may be the one that posts a little too much about this racism and equality stuff, or may be  I am that Black friend that makes you think a bit too much or feel a bit too much when you read my writing. Heaven forbid a different perspective. I’m sorry you’re triggered, but I’m also triggered. I’m triggered every time a Black man kills a Black man, and you ask me to talk to the brothers as if I know every Black man in the world with a handgun. But I get it. My swag matches the rappers that promote gun violence in their music. How could Carlos not know these criminals? Doesn’t he listen to rap music? He must be affiliated with these rappers somehow? Sadly some of my peers can’t seem to see the similarities between us. They don’t see that even though we work at the same place, eat at the same cafeteria, making the same money, watch the same news, we share different experiences.

They will never have to worry about me confronting them about a mass shooter or a serial killer because of their skin complexion. They don’t feel awkward working with someone who has the confederate flag tattooed on their body. Visible for everyone to see. They don’t feel uncomfortable having to be locker neighbours with someone who has stickers of the confederate flag on their locker or posters of the confederate flag in their locker. I could very well come into work and see people wear white pillowcases for Halloween, and no one would see a problem with it except the black people.

The problem is no one who wants to say anything about racism because of the potential backlash and what it means for them. Some of the Black men that have been at my workplace for decades have told me that the guys that are tatted with the confederate flag don’t even know what it means. When I heard that excuse for their acceptance of ignorance, I felt like my mentors had given up on standing up for themselves.

And to add insult to injury, my Blackness is questioned. I guess I’m written off because I can read and write the language that was forced down the throats of my ancestors. It wasn’t enough to separate us from our families, but you had to change our last names to make it even harder for us to find each other. I’m sick of the past and hearing about slavery, but yet history keeps repeating itself. 

These police brutalities that escalate to murders are increasing. It’s beyond it being a one-off. It doesn’t seem to be in one state or one country, but it seems to be worldwide. How many more lives? Does a Black A list celebrity need to be the sacrifice for this to matter? Or does a white A list celebrity who accidentally gets shot or killed while protesting be enough for a change or even a little more compassion? Because let’s face it, the lack of empathy is as hurtful as the unjust act itself. 

I know Jacob Blake didn’t die, but if I woke up from a coma and found out that I was paralyzed after stopping a fight between two women, I might have wished I was dead. To know that I won’t be able to walk my kids to school anymore because of my good intentions. I won’t be able to take my daughters to prom or dance with her at her wedding. That  I won’t be able to teach my kids how to play sports the way I do now. The frustration of going from independent to dependent. 

The frustration of knowing I will no longer be able to do the little things like go to the grocery store, stand up and stir pasta in pots. Everything I do would be confined to a wheelchair. At first, my family would be excited to push me and pull me around. I would make jokes at their expense about them being lazy to feel better about my condition. Then the jokes would turn to reality. I would be left at home when they had to go and get groceries. 

Eventually, going outside would be too much of a burden again. The looks that my wife used to give me when I woke up and got dressed would change. The look that my son would give me when playing sports or going on field trips would change. He’d be crushed to know that his father’s legs were taken from him and that they could no longer play basketball together on the court. 

Going on field trips might be embarrassing so that my son or his sisters stop asking me to come. I wonder if the police officer thought about all of that when he shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. I wonder what his partner thought? I wonder what their families thought when they saw the video. I wonder if it happened to one of their family members or friends if you would be different. But how could it be different when people like you ignore or scroll down these posts.

Suppose you lack even more compassion after reading this and become angrier. I guess I’ll have to try a different way to get through to you the next month, week, day, hour, a minute or second a Black man or woman is murdered or unjustly shot by a police officer. 

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