I learned about him on a church trip to Kentucky.
I knew the boy had died.
He was seventeen, only a kid.
We were both in high school.
Boys that age were always annoying, they were
loud and they never minded their own business, but
He didn’t deserve to die.
I took interest.
We’re taught from a young age that
we are different.
That people will treat us differently.
We know that our blackness is, in fact,
a weapon. So we learn to
stay quiet, not to draw attention to ourselves
because we will be treated as a
problem to be removed.
We learn to gravitate towards others like us
to stay safe.
But we are also taught that
certain things are behind us.
We are citizens. We do
belong here. We are just as important
as anyone else.
It’s the police's job to protect us too.
The justice system is meant to be just
We don’t have to hide.
I learned on a church trip to Kentucky
that the man who killed the boy will not go to prison.
I learned that it doesn’t matter
what grade we’re in.
I learned that anything is warranted
if someone looks a certain way.
We have to fight to count the same because
we are not looked at the same.
People will treat us differently.
Our blackness is a weapon.
Stay quiet because
we do not have the ability to drop your weapon.
Don’t draw attention to ourselves because
we may be asked to do just that.
Some people do not want us as citizens.
I am not as important
as everyone else.
The police may not see our
protection as part of their job.
I learned that
skittles and sweet tea
can be dangerous.
That a black hoodie is
not the way to hide.
The boy would’ve just turned twenty-four.
Fall, 2019 Issue