I wonder if this is it.
I wonder if this will be the murder that finally forces America to take a good hard look at itself — its origins, its practices — and rage until all of the gears grind to a screeching halt and we are forced to go back to the drawing board.
Or will this killing, the murder of George Floyd, go the way that all the deaths before him went — temporary rage until the next big thing happens to distract us from our collective wound.
I wonder what it will look like, the murder that finally pushes this country over the edge.
Will it be a child?
No. We saw the deaths of Tamir Rice and Aiyana Jones. And before that, we saw it with Emmett Till and four girls when an Alabama church was bombed.
And 65 years after Mamie Till-Mobley gave her son an open-casket funeral — revealing his mutilated body to a nation and sparking a movement — black men are still being wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit. Black men are still being murdered by police in full view of the recording public — modern-day lynching. White women are still using their white woman power to try to snuff the life out of black men, simply because they can.
So no, the murder of a child isn’t it.
Maybe it will be the death of a woman.
No, we had Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor and Yvonne Smallwood. So that’s not it.
I know. It will be a woman murdered in front of a child.
There was Atatiana Jefferson.
Wait. I know.
A black man being murdered in front of his 4-year-old child. Surely that will turn America on its head, and we will finally see radical change and radical justice.
But no, not even the murder of Philando Castile changed anything.
So what is it going to take, America?
How gruesome will the murder of another black American have to be before you take a serious stand against racism and begin tearing it down from the inside out?
How angry will black women have to get before you say enough is enough?
Every person in this country should be feeling the pain of every black mother who has had to bury her son or daughter because a system founded on racist ideologies deemed their child’s life not worthy. Every person in this country should be screaming, storming capitol buildings (not with guns because we know how that will end for black people), protesting police brutality and taking a knee.
But they are not.
And I have to ask, why?
When you pledge allegiance to the flag, you literally say the words “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
Do those words mean anything, or is it performative, a reflex?
Do Americans really want justice for all, or just the people who look like the founding fathers of this country? I don’t know the answers to these questions I pose. I don’t know when enough will actually be enough for America.
What I do know is this: It’s enough for Black America. It’s been enough for the last 400 years, since the first slave touched American soil. We just didn’t have the freedom or the language to say so.
But today we do, and we’re screaming it at the top of our lungs — screaming our siren song of collective, unrelenting pain and trauma.
We’re just wondering when the rest of America is going to join in the chorus.