Updated: Jun 16
In the summer of 2009, I fell in love. It wasn’t at first sight. In fact, it took many years after we lost touch that I realized how much I loved him. He was a quiet boy—the son of my mother’s coworker, who recently moved to the States from Trinidad. I would have to strain my ear to catch a whisper of the accent that reminded me of our shared mothers’ land. He loved music and skateboarding, bearing the teasing of his cousin who called him “Kick Push”, with shy laughs. He had quiet eyes. The kind of eyes that took in all that world had to offer and tucked it away, for what I do not know. Our first date was disastrous. We went to the mall, like most teenagers, wasting away in the suburbs. He ditched me for his friends, and I found solace in the arms of mine. Later I would learn that he was too nervous about being alone with me. We spoke again, but never about that day. Understanding that love is also beautiful outside of the confines of romance.
Fast forward two years later, I received a call late at night from my mother. He was dead. Murdered by the police. Another case of “fitting the description” because all Black people look alike, right? I remember sitting in my college dorm room, choking on my silent cries as not to wake up my suitemates. How could God take this sweet, quiet spirit from the world? The theft of his presence hit all of his loved ones like a ton of bricks. I can never remove the image of his brother crying at his funeral, dancing furiously at the church altar to Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman,” as if this would be the offering that would restore life to his brother’s body. I can never remove the image of his mother walking down the church aisle, tears streaming down her cheeks, a smile on her face as she proclaimed, “My son is with God, he feels no pain!” It would take me years to stop Googling his name, to stop reading and re-reading articles about his murder, to stop being hurt by the words of racist people who congratulated the police for “getting another dangerous animal off the street.” He was not a carjacker; he was not a thief; he was not superhuman. He was a caring, talented, quiet 19-year-old young Black man who saw all that world had to offer, tucked it away, and was murdered before the world would understand him.
Fast forward four years later, and I am living in a city in mourning. A city in rage. A city in rebellion. “Whoever died from a rough ride?” Freddie Gray. “Oh, Baltimore/Ain’t it hard just to live?” The beauty of Baltimore is that we are a Black city. We are a political city. The people who lead our city look like us. And it hurts when it is your own people who do you wrong. It goes to show you that Black faces in white spaces will not bring about the liberation that we need. White supremacy is insidious, and it must die from the root. We took to the streets and let our pain be heard. Black Lives Matter. Marching with comrades, learning from elders, demanding change. We drew close as a community. Black Lives Matter. Providing care, food, education, love, art, whatever we needed to heal. And when the cameras and Blue Vest left, when the CVS on the corner of Pennsylvania & North Ave stopped burning (and it was rebuilt), we continued to heal. We continued to fight for our lives. We continue to do what needs to be done because we do not know how to do anything else.
Fast forward five years later, and it is now. Black people are still oppressed. Black people are still being murdered at the hands of the police and vigilantes. Black people are still saying the names of Black womxn, trans people, men, and children whose lives have been stolen by the hands of those who refuse to believe we matter. Black people are still hurting. Black people are still grieving. Black people are still fighting for the right to live. And while nothing has changed tremendously, something still feels different about this moment. As much as my heart has been numbed, deep down there is still a flame of hope. Black people all over this world have resisted for centuries. And it is in the strength from the ancestors and the strength of comrades today that I feel it in my soul: liberation is coming. So we continue to fight for our lives. We continue to demand more from a country, from a world, that has taken so much from us. We continue to heal. We continue to do what needs to be done because we know that in the future, all Black people will exist in a world where we live without fear, love without fear, and be without fear.
For more information Mickey Mobley follow her on Instagram at @_inthemicks.