There have been numerous op-ed pieces about “the Black body”–the vulnerable, often violated “Black body”. And while I understand this phrase and its meaning I often find myself angry with it. It is reductive. It removes the personalities, the narratives of the specific human beings who were vulnerable and violated. Black lives matter. Black lives have narratives that explode the ideal of justice and equality and respect that should be the foundation of a great Republic. Black lives matter because if there was justice, equality and respect no one would write about “the Black body.”
The men and women who have been killed by members of law enforcement and/or their allies over the past few years have names and narratives that go beyond the sensational ways in their lives were interrupted have names, had lives that mattered to someone who loved them, cared about them, worried over them and now mourn them. #blacklivesmatter.
Sandra Bland should still be breathing and so should so many other people with names. Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and many others. They are not “bodies” to me. They are young and old, poor and middle class, well educated and street wise, family people, single and looking, going to college or dropped out. They had smiles and told stories and maybe knew how to dance or write or served as emergency babysitters. They are not bodies. They have parents, siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, a favorite teacher or teachers they hated. Someone saved their baby teeth. Someone has their pictures in a Bible. Their mothers wear White and seek solace and justice. Their mothers speak to the media, but speak to them in private. They are not bodies. They should be breathing. They should be smiling and planning a party or angry and cursing or studying geometry or checking out new games or walking around. They have names. They have families. They have stories. They are not bodies.