Story With No Title
Yesterday I woke to my coffee and had a premonition: “I don’t want to open the news today.”
It was one thing, wasn’t it, when social media was just noodle lunches and puppies, and the day’s news didn’t threaten to devastate.
I had a rare, pleasant evening, and didn’t want to break the spell.
But as I was safe at my home on a picnic blanket with a cocktail listening to love songs, a murderer was snatching the life of George Floyd just a few miles from my yard.
This part I can’t shake. For George Floyd there won’t be any more picnic blankets. No more pleasant quiet evenings, no more long talks with friends, no more hummus and pita, no more swiping through Spotify to find the perfect song. No more coffee, or premonitions.
When I woke up yesterday morning, I had a vague idea to write about the earth, and humanity, and our unyielding connectedness to each other because nature demands it, until we return to the earth, like all living things. How we’re made of stardust and collagen, calcium phosphate, keratin, just proteins and elements and the same protective, yet highly destructible things that hold the whole world together, however brief, or however long.
Yeah, I said it was vague. I still wanted to write it, I figured I’d get to the point eventually, which is how writing tends to go.
But I did open the news, and you know what I saw, first thing, on my 6×3-inch screen, a story too big for all of our hearts to hold, much less to be delivered by a pixelated square exhibited by a tiny photo about something involving a cop’s knee.
I closed the news.
I started texting friends, because we’re nothing if not connected, remember?
“Did you see the news coming out of your neighborhood?”
“I just saw the news, I’m sick.”
And most terrible of all, I texted:
“They killed another black man.”
Just go back and read that last sentence once more. I’ll wait.
“They killed another black man.”
Like it’s a fact. Like it’s mundane. Like it’s an everyday thing. Like it’s a minor annoyance.
“It’s going to rain again.”
“I ran out of toilet paper again.”
The murder of unarmed men in the streets has become part of our every day language.
It happens all the time.
When I woke up this morning, the very first thing I thought of was George Floyd’s face. His pleasant, calm expression, his lovely African features– wide nose, full lips. He looks like someone I could have known. He looks like someone I would like to have known. He was someone other people I know did know. He was a security guard at local salsa club Conga.
“He always showed respect when you walked through the door.”
Some synonyms: consideration, deference, dignity, honor, recognition, regard, reverence, courtesy, homage, veneration.
George Floyd died with none of them.
Like many of you, my heart, and thus my body, was pulled towards the protest of George Floyd’s death. If you had told me I would gather with thousands of other people during a global pandemic, I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have been too scared.
And I am scared. I’m so, so scared. My brain flips through the mental rolodex of the black men and boys who I know, and there are many. I think about their bones and their teeth and their hair. I look down at my own brown skin as I write this– call it pecan, call it chestnut, call it mocha, all such pleasant things to contemplate, just made of keratin, just a protein, just the thing that holds my bones and my stomach, and my bowels and my beating heart and my hopes, dreams, desires, love, agony, pain, joy, pleasures, tears, anger, anguish, and my humanity inside of me.
Just the thing that will someday be dead and gone and buried in the ground, and through some strokes of privilege, since my skin is female, and light, not male and chocolate– so pleasant to contemplate– but thanks to those things my skin may not be buried before it’s time, due to another person’s fear and revulsion at the sight of my skin.
But it will take some luck. Some strokes of the butterfly effect, to keep my skin out of the ground, out of the ashes, prematurely. There’s no place to go or to hide.
And why should I? What is a life of hiding? What am I, if not a natural, born-to-the-universe creature, who wants to crawl about and feel the air on its skin, in the short time it is able to reveal it to the sun, to the touch of another human?
Another human. I’m one, you are one. No one of our lives are more important than the next.
“I am you or you are me. You are my other me. If I do harm to you, I do harm to myself. If I love and respect you, I love and respect myself.” I recently saw this on a mural and there’s nothing more resonant I can add to it.
I look at this photo and the interconnectedness gives me chills. I react to it in my body. In my skin that holds in my joy, fear, anguish. Everyone in this photo knows that we are all George Floyd. Our brother, our boyfriend, our dad, our friend, our security guard, our son, ourselves.
We can’t hide from ourselves.
You are my other me.
For more from our friend Mecca Bos please visit her Patreon. Also, if you didn’t check the link to her and Abe’s podcast in our George Floyd Murals article, you can listen to the realness from Minneapolis below: