Open Letter to the Media, If/When I am Gunned Down by the Police or a Random White Person.
If you are receiving this letter, it is because I was gunned down or otherwise brutally killed by the hands of a police officer or a random white person by mistake; or in self-defense; or because they somehow knew I had a violent felony on my record by just looking at me; or because I looked aggressive; or because I looked suspicious; or because I refused to capitulate; or because I had shiny object in hand; or because my hand came out of my pocket too fast… or too slow; or because I once posted something inappropriate on Facebook or twitter; or because I resisted.
Though I wear suits and ties in the day and meet with elected and other suit wearing people, I know that my wearing hoodies and sweatpants when I walk to the gym in Bed-Stuy at night makes it my fault for my death. I should’ve policed myself better. I should’ve been less threatening. I should’ve understood that my life during the day mattered little in the night.
My darker hue, six-foot frame, and 195lb weight makes me a threat in my own neighborhood. I should have recognized that my presence in this world is transient and judged through a lens unlike my own… a whiter one.
I eulogize myself now because I need the world to know that I was scared when you stopped me; or that I was plain fed up of negotiating my presence just to make some white person feel secure or to fit in to a system that rations out air for me to breathe. I did not feel like I had to tell you where I lived. I am a grown-ass man that was exhausted with proving my legitimacy in the place of my birth.
I had to tell you this when I was 15 when I was standing in front of my building and made up my mind that I was not going to bend to your questioning 20 years later. So, I resisted. It is in that spirit of resistance that I write this letter.
I am writing to live beyond the castration of my character that you will vigorously pursue. To that end I write now because I believe that I have to tell this story now before your power tells my story– a story that will raise just enough doubt in the eyes of a jury—white or black. I write now because I am scared and my father is scared for me.
I write now because as much as I hate to admit it, I know that in this system of things, black life matters little to it, and if I I do not tell my story, the right story, your story will win.