For those who may need reminding, there was once a young man named Oscar Grant. He was born in the year nineteen eighty-six. If he were still living, he’d be turning 29 tomorrow, February 27, 2015. He was a father, a son, an uncle, a friend, a partner and a sacrifice. 

On January 1st, six years ago, Oscar was shot in his back by a B.A.R.T police officer, dying on the ground of the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, Ca. In 2013, there was an amazingly underrated film produced, also named Fruitvale Station, which paid homage to the final hours of Oscar’s life.

Tonight, on the eve of his spirit’s 29th birthday, I want to share a poem I wrote honoring his memory, following my heart breaking experience, watching Fruitvale Station. It is important that we all continue to remember young people who were violently murdered more recently, such as Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Aiyana Stanley- Jones and Renisha McBride.

It is also important for us to remember more forgotten youth who passed before them. From the 2013 murders of Kimani Gray and Ramarley Graham, to the 2009 murder of Oscar Grant, and even as far back as the grisly 1955 murder of Emmett Till. And let us also remember those who are even more forgotten, like recently murdered Trans women, Goddess Edward, Taja DeJesus, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, Yazmin Vash Payne, and Penny Proud

Rest in Power, princes and princesses. Your sacrifices will not be in vain. I promise you that! To Oscar, thank you for your dignified strength and loyalty. There is no us, without you! Much love, peace and honor to your spirit, eternally.

collage of shot Black children


A Poem for Mr. Grant

Before I go to bed,

I have to get these thoughts off my mind,

these feelings out of my heart, and this aching away from my soul

So I’m praying that through typing these emotions into words,

that I am able to get them out of my heart,

away from my thoughts,

through my eyes,

to watch them dance pass the tips of my fingers onto the screen,

and that thus,

I am able to find some peace with my emotions,

if only for the night.

 

I’m hurt.

I’m angry.

I’m devastated and destroyed.

I feel full of sadness and confusion.

Disgust.

True, raw, unrefined, unrelenting, unselfish PAIN!

And yet, what is MY pain???

In light of OUR pain!!!

 

The pain of watching as

Brown bodies continue to be

Diluted into nothingness

Constituted by emptiness

Stripped of dignity, integrity and humanity

Gripped by pain, self-hatred and insanity

Devoid of all security

Employed to abandon all surety

Professed to be beyond the edge of acceptable grace and purity

Conditioned to any effort for progression being met with futility

 

The pain of hearing Brown mamas

Crying their souls to sleep

As they wait every night

Consciously

Or

Unconsciously

Somewhere in the deepest

Depths of their beings

For that phone call

The call that every Brown mama

Becomes entrapped by

When she creates a life

That lives to live beyond

The reaches of her shelter

And the protection of her love

The call every Brown mama

Knows comes to Brown mamas

More than any other mamas

That call that solidifies every aspect of the pain wrapped in being a Brown mama

That amplifies the invisible shackles, chains, and bars enclosing our minds, souls, and lives

That call that makes it incredibly hard to deny that

Maybe

Just maybe

The worse thing possible

Is to be born to be

A Brown mama

That phone call

That fortifies the reality of one more

Brown baby

Killed

Murdered

Slaughtered

Enslaved

Restrained

By the viciously suffocating

Fatally intoxicating

Noxious existence of

A world

A society

A community

A country

A history

A reality

Conformed to

Damn

The very existence

Of God’s beautiful

Brown babies

That phone call

 

The pain of feeling

The loss of one more

Brother

Mother

Cousin

Grandfather

The loss of one more

Best friend

Homie

Ace boon

Right Hand

Ride or die

Back bone

That pain of losing

One

More

Is too numbing

To numb aanymore

The pain is too painful

To feel

And too raw

Unscabbed

And straight bloody

To be ignored

 

So for Mr. Grant

The partner

The son

The brother

The father

The tio

The homie

The man

The child of God

We must let the blood spill

We must let the pain throb

Allow the bruises to blacken

And the anger and frustration to pour

Allow the pain to sit

And the hurt to gnaw

We must live our lives in memory of his grace

While maintaining the pain of his loss

The pain of his demobilizing pain

Of his rejected hope

Of his encroached fear

Of his unselfish courage

Of his repressed honor

Of his unrequited love

Of his beautiful yesterdays and stolen tomorrows

Of his blessed life

Of his undeserving death

Of his insatiable absence

And of his inexplicable significance

 

So this poem is for Mr. Grant

Who lost his life

To give us a raw

Disturbing

Unblemished

Vividly clear

And unforgiving

Picture

Of Reality

Of what is

And not what should be

 

Mr. Grant died

So that maybe

One day

Our brown babies could

LIVE!

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