A story by: D.A. Osorio
If you are reading this, that means either you found my writings hidden in the attic behind some stuff your grandmother has been storing there for years or I am no longer here with you. If it is the latter, there is a good chance something other than natural causes is responsible for that. You see, when you commit to fight injustice as openly and as viciously as I have that brings you people that do not like the status quo rocked with and who will fight vehemently to preserve that. I get it. I do. It is not arrogant to say that there are some people that believe your mere existence threatens their way of life. I do not ever want you to think that about anyone. I want you to accept the people who are like you and love those who are not because that is where we become better, even if those you love continue to hurt you. You fight for what is right, no matter how many people try to tell you it is not. This kind of message will not always be met with acceptance.
This kind of message brings you people who do not care for your message because you are not their kind of messenger. There was this football player named Colin Kaepernick, he was great even before you were a thought, and he was more famous than I could ever be. Kaepernick, also, had less melanin in his pigment than I did. Because of your mom, you actually look closer to him than I do. He was anonymously branded a traitor by executives in his sport. Anonymous, you know? Remember we talked about how those who do not address things directly do not deserve a reply? That was one of those instances. The anonymous people that bash him hold his career in their hands and you kind of get the feeling that he does not care, because the mission is more important than the messenger. While people were busy misreading his intentions or what his end goal really is, he was handing out suits to people that had been released from jail so they can wear them on interviews. His message was one of unity to fight injustices and to fight for equal rights. Martin Luther King did it. Malcolm X did it. Remember that, all of you. Don’t let your mission be ignored when they try to ignore the person delivering it. That’s lesson number one.
It is my hope that I was a better father to you than your grandfather was to me. You have gotten to know your grandfather better than I ever knew him, and while a part of me is jealous of that another part of me (the bigger part) cherishes your relationship with him. I think you are better for it. He taught me that, even if they accept your message, you will still be a black person to the world. Sometimes our truth and the way the world views us line up. We are black by race, dominican ethnically, but the world only believes what they see half the time. We are whatever we say we are, and that is our truth, but not everyone will share the same truth as you. You will crave objectivity like you crave air, but you will realize that race and how the world views you is very rarely objective. It is okay if it is not. We fight for objectivity, but we accept how others view us as long as that view does not cloud how we are treated.
Alton Sterling and his truth was a victim of how the world viewed him. Jordan Edwards was a victim of it as well. So was Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and so many others who have been riddled with bullets and had their lives cut short. These stories are not stories that are made up. It is terrifying for me that I have to tell you about the actual boogeymen, and that they wear guns on their sides and they are in uniform and walk the streets that you also walk. They are allegedly here to protect and serve and, while I am sure there are some good cops here, it is not lost on me that I have spent my entire life hearing that I should not dress that way, talk that way, behave that way because the police will view me as a threat. Those statements are usually delivered in different variations: stop resisting, act right, do not talk like that, and dress like this are the terms that are used. I know I have repeated that to you so much that it hurts. People will tell you that you should let black boys and girls just be themselves while also telling you that you should not warn them about the danger that being themselves brings. The same people will tell you that you are raising victims.
Jordan Edwards’s mother did not raise a victim. The world made him a victim when two police officers chose to remove their guns from their holsters and open fire on a car that we now know posed no threat. Trayvon Martin’s mother did not raise a victim. The world made him a victim because an off-duty security guard chose to follow him when he was instructed not to only because the young man had a hoodie on. Sandra Bland’s mother did not raise a victim. The world made her a victim when she was pulled over because she was smoking cigarette in her car and the police officer did not like that she refused to do that. My brother was not a victim. The world made him a victim when six NYPD officers decided he was a threat and assaulted him underneath the 6 Train in the Bronx as he was on crutches. You become a victim whether you are trying to come home from school, or leaving a house party, or just standing around waiting for a cab. You become a victim because the world does not like how you stand, or how you talk, and the world chooses to ignore that you are exhausted. The exhaustion sets in when you are being followed in a store, or when you are told that you are resisting arrest while your hands are merely on the steering wheel. You are tired of constantly being harassed, of repeatedly being told that the way you are is not good enough to save your life, and that you need to change because the world will not protect the color of your skin from being deemed a threat.
You become a victim because you are black. Sandra Bland became a victim because she was black. Trayvon Martin became a victim because he was black. Alton Sterling became a victim because he was black. My brother became a victim because he was black. So, what am I supposed to do when I cannot protect you from the world?