They Have To Kill My Brother, Don’t They?


I have a brother who doesn’t doesn’t speak as loud as I speak about injustices and inequality. His neighbors do their best to help him forget those words. His mother isn’t my mother, his father isn’t my father. We share fraternity founders, and he works for a government I don’t quite trust, and barely respect. He loves his job, and asks that I don’t speak foul of it when we’re together. I respect his wishes, assuming he hides my updates on social media; filtered me out.

My brother’s oldest son in six-years-old, plays tee-ball, and wakes up early on Sundays because he’s excited about church. His wife is beautiful, and so is their five-year-old daughter. Their youngest kid is 2, hilarious, but hates being lifted up and tossed across a room onto pillows like most kids I know her age.

He lives by the rules. He questions the victims before questioning the suspects. He has a house with six bedrooms, a garage big enough for 3 cars and 5 bicycles, and a lake close by to sit near in summers and grill the meat marinated in the sauce his father passed down. His father calls every Sunday to make a wager on the game, and his mother calls Saturdays to make sure he’ll be in church in the morning. His folks are still married, and his father still opens doors and pulls out seats.

My brother works hard, doesn’t play as hard, and is thrilled to use vacation time to do nothing but play in the backyard with the family. The life without flaws, it seems.

He has to to be killed. He must be killed during a routine traffic stop to make them understand. There are no photos of him in a durag and loose clothes, and no videos of him drinking beer in college, and no women who’ll come forward saying he drugged them then ran his dick across the back of their hands. He must be shot at point blank range by a white officer for the people who currently can’t fathom that some white boys do join the police for to kill black boys. My brother must be mistaken for a burglar, then dragged from his beautifully painted porch by two white officers and beaten to death in his front yard in front of those neighbors who “don’t see color” to get them to see.

I feel bad because I sometimes, especially lately, think about doing to him what Koba did to Caesar. It can’t be me who is killed by the white officer. They’ll rip me to shreds me within minutes on World News, finding the photo of me in my underwear with a BB Gun, staring through the blinds of my SouthEast DC apartment. It must be him.

Because if <em>he</em> is killed, they’ll care. There will be no plausible excuses accepted by those neighbors who will now comfort and feed his wife and children. These neighbors may think it, but they won’t admit they believe his life is worth more than those people they’ve told him he’s nothing like. They will They’ll care because they let him in their house, and people like him. He reminds them of their sons, fathers, brothers, and uncles.

Then I remember July 30, 2009 when Obama gave Sgt. James Crowley a beer at the White House after arresting Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for entering his own home in Cambridge, Mass. A beer. I don’t want my brother to be killed if all he’ll get in return is a wife who gets to say she shared a bottle of Don Julio with the President and Vice President and the man who killed her husband.

So who has to be killed?

4 thoughts on “They Have To Kill My Brother, Don’t They?

  1. Your piece…amazing. I thoroughly enjoy your work.
    Yesterday, two of the sixth-graders I mentor came to eat lunch with me. During the last few minutes of our meal, one of them starts talking about the Darren Wilson verdict. I said, “what did the outcome tell you?” One pipes up and says, “that we need to act good.” I looked at him and shook my head knowing that no matter how black boys live or how they act, they are vulnerable to attacks.

  2. Many of the young boys don’t understand “act good” when you talk to them. Some of them act good, follow the rules, and they still face opposition; they have money in their pocket and go shopping only to have ‘5 0’ follow them around a store harassing them; they sometimes get stopped and frisked while walking home from the bus stop, minding their own business. I would give the “act good” speech too, just like you’re saying. But I know lots of people who decided that acting good doesn’t work for them (i.e., which is why some of them are looting and starting violent riots, setting fires and burning stuff down). It’s really hard, and I don’t know what I’d say. Act good is a start, though. At least when society judges them, nobody can say they were misbehaving or getting into trouble if they’re acting good.

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