#IfIDieInPoliceCustody don’t say I was an organizer. Don’t talk about how I knew what to say when everyone else was too shocked or too scared to say anything. Don’t say I was courageous. Don’t say I was smart. Don’t mention all the work I did for “the community.”
Tell them I was too busy bein’ Black to worry about being good. Describe for them how I danced down the street with my headphones blasting the soulful sounds of Nina Simone into my brain. Tell them that the feeling of her voice bouncing off the cavernous walls of my skull is the closest to feeling liberated I ever get.
Describe to them the subtle shifts in my shoulders, the gentle sway in my hips, the way by feet shuffled softly when I was listening to “Feeling Good.” Tell them how easily I lose my self in song.
Tell them about how animated my face gets when we organize. Tell them how my brain never stopped working. Tell them that I never let it all turn me bitter and jaded [at least not for long]. Tell them how much of me there was to contain in this one beautiful Black body. Tell them about all the Black joy that was just bursting from the seams.
Tell them about the way I would stare off into the distance and cry at the mystery and wonder of it all. Tell them about how much I loved my family. Tell them how proud I was of my niece, how excited I was to see her grow up.
Tell them how I looked just like my father. Tell them how I learned to stand up for others because of how he stood up for me. Tell them how my skeptical face is my mother’s dual eyebrows raised reaching to the sky, head cocked confidently to the side, and the smile, a smirk, turned slightly to the left.
Tell them that I was a lover not a fighter but sometimes I just loved the fight.
Tell them that I secretly loved the struggle. Tell them that for the all blows and lashes it gave me, my Blackness made me stronger than I ever imagined a person could be. Tell them that my oppression gave me the gift of second sight.
Tell them that my Blackness let me envision a world more vivid, more visceral, more real, and more charged with the glorious energies of a life well lived than this one. Tell them that I envisioned a world in which Black lives blossomed; where our greatness, our resilience, our magnificence burst into the world with tears of a joy so full of mirth that our whole body shook in collective ecstasy. Tell them that through the veil I am able to see the glory of that liberation.
I can see a world in which we have all have reclaimed the erotic; where we can feel our power and joy in the marrow of our bones; where the very fibers of our being feel the vibrancy of love coursing through them. I can see a world where we love without reservations; a world where we know we deserved to be loved. I can see a world where Black self-determination is an eternal block party where we sometimes vote on our budget. I can see a world where justice is love and love is a process and a praxis taught in schools.
I believe in a day when the power of own full authentic selves will not scare us.
Tell them I also believe in Sundays spent sipping lemonade on porches; in playing the dozens as our neighbors shoot dice. I believe in rapping Black so hard that time just melts into the asphalt; that the only constant is a gentle cool breeze that wipes the sweat from our brows; that the sun forgets to set but the moon can’t help but rise.
Tell them I believe in dancing each and every time the beat hits my body. Tell them I believe in dancing like the sensual swivel of my hips is the only force capable of keeping the earth spinning. Tell them I believe in experiencing so much joy on the dance floor that our bodies start speaking in tongues, begin jerking, and hyping, and locking in a simultaneously divine and carnal syntax.
When I die, tell them that I loved Black women. Tell them that I was amazed by #BlackGirlMagic. Tell them that I would have followed my sisters to the ends of the earth and back. Tell them not to host any marches or rallies or riots when I die.
Tell them that I wanted you tell your mother you loved her. Tell them that I wanted everyone who knew me to shout #ILoveBlackWomen to the universe. Tell them I want my brothers to pour out 40oz of patriarchy whenever they mention my name. Tell them that my only regret is that I never got to see Black Liberation smash the patriarchy.
When I die, don’t cry for me. I’ll be watching gun smoke with Buddy Boy.
When I die don’t cry for me, cry for yourselves.
Cry for everyone who never got to see my brilliance. Cry for every white person whose racism meant that they will never be able to see how my soul couldn’t be contained. Cry for the police officers who were too afraid of my power to see its unlimited potential for transformative change. Cry for the people who would never get to see the way my face lights up when I sing along to the sound of music.
Cry for the songs I wouldn’t get to write. Cry for the poems you’d never hear recited. Cry for the children I’d never bring into the world. Cry for the world I never got to build. Cry for the gifts of genius that I would never give you. Cry for the all the people who would never be able to be loved by me.
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody: Cry if you must-but don’t cry for me.