op-ed: #deartamir, i give you this poem

January 5, 2016

I know this took too long for me to write, Tamir, and I apologize for that. I wanted to write an article for you. I wanted to construct a piece for you on police brutality, on racism, on the dehumanization of black people, on the denial of childhood for young black kids. But I couldn’t. My hands were shaky and my voice weak, tears rolling down my face, as I found out that the Grand Jury had returned their decision declining to indict the police officers responsible for the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

I sat at my desk for hours typing then deleting so many beginning paragraphs to a piece of work that I couldn’t construct. Those hours turned into days and in the back of my mind, and I entered the New Year feeling a depression inside of me because I still hadn’t given you my words. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know how to say it. As a young, queer black person I don’t always have the mental or emotional capacity to take the weight of dying black bodies from my shoulders to put into words.

I know that blackness is seen as violence incarnate. I know that much of Amerika won’t understand, nor be compelled enough to take action. I know Audre Lorde taught me that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, but right now I don’t know how to create the new tools to pull to pieces the house that did this to you. But I also know that these killings have to stop. And I know that I sat, finally, late in the night and the only thing that came to me that I could give you was poetry.

This is for you, Tamir.

By Devyn Springer, AFROPUNK contributor

You remind me of what it’s like
being trapped under the ocean
and still looking up and seeing light.
You remind me of the streets
and why we march through them at night.
You remind me of a black boy’s future;
the bright is always too slight
to scare away the demons
and help them get sleep at night.
You remind me of my tears,
You remind me of my fears,
You remind me of what
we’ve been running from for so many years.

You remind me of a child’s smile,
You remind me of a child’s frown,
You remind me that bullets
hit children all because their skin
matches the skin of Mike Brown.

You remind of the strongest feeling I’ve ever known;
stronger than a mother’s love,
You remind me I still haven’t done enough.
You remind me of God above.

You remind me that my feet
haven’t hit the street enough.
You remind me of being 12 years old,
momma dressing me up for Sunday school,
walking into church to clean my soul.
You remind me of basketball,
of trading video games,
of playing in the leaves during Fall,
of so many other black children’s names.

You remind me of demons,
the ones you should’ve never met.
You remind of the carefree black boy
that many haven’t learned to be yet.
Your soul is a name etched into our hearts,
that name reminds me
that the future can look so dark.
You remind me of peace,
peace of body and peace of mind,
and You remind me
how rarely peace and blackness synchronize.
You remind me of the seeds
Assata told me would beautifully grow,
You remind me of the seams
and ripped jeans
that Angela wanted to sew.
You remind me of a child,
young and full of life.
You remind me of a smile
that deserves to be by a mother’s side.
You remind me.

You remind me of breathing in
and exhaling out,
of weak weeks,
tears on soft cheeks,
staying silent when you want to shout.
You remind me of change,
how we have to be the ones to make it,
how it will never be given to us,
how we have to take it.
You remind me of Amerika,
You remind me of the myth of a dark past
that exists as a darker present.
You remind me of life
and how they take it away
like a repossessed present.
You remind me of promises I will make to you,
promises to fight for you,
promises to put these tears to use,
You remind me that to be afraid
is to behave as if the truth were not true.
You remind me.

Illustration by Carlos Latuff

* Devyn Springer | Twitter / Instagram @HalfAtlanta
D.S. Photography