He was just a kid. At eighteen years old, he was six feet tall and thin. His skin was dark, the color of almonds. He had gold eyes that girls liked to drown in. He was late for work and annoyed by his own lateness. He wanted to keep this job. He needed it. Tuition was sky high and he intended to graduate from college and not owe his soul to the loan companies afterward.
Tre was dressed in all black. He wore an inky hoody that his face was practically dissolved into. He looked like a walking shadow as he strode the dark streets quickly in his rush to get to where he was going. He had his boss on his mind. The speech he would have to hear for being late today rang in his ears. He hadn't heard the speech often, but he'd heard it enough. The high-pitched inner voice lent a spring to his step.
He crossed the street into the relatively affluent neighborhood in which he bused tables at a prestigious little restaurant. It had always amazed him how the simple crossing of a street could change one's whole world in the city. Behind him lay darkness, busted streetlights and decay, and ahead of him was a brightly lit tree-lined neighborhood that looked like Heaven in comparison.
He didn't see the cop because his mind was on his job. He heard the slight mechanical whirring sound that cop cars make when they pulled up behind someone, and froze instantly.
In the night, a song began, and that song was grounded in the noise of Tre's frantic heartbeat, combined with the cop's heartbeat, the noise of the cop car's engine, the whisper of the wind, the sound of a toddler laughing, and the low, hitching sadness of a woman crying. There were many other sounds too in the making of Tre's song ...
...a far away car alarm...
... a soft but intense argument between a husband and wife...
...the sound of water trickling into a rain gutter...
...a stray cat's desperate, hungry noise...
The cop gets out of his vehicle. There is something nervous in his walk as he approaches the walking shadow that is Tre. The determined footsteps of the walk joins the song, and the music swells until it is rich and deep and throbbing with heartsounds of these two people in this moment.
"What are you doing here?" is the first lyric.
"Going to work," slightly defensive ... is the second.
"Let me see your I.D," is the hook.
"Why?" is the chorus.
A rather raggedy car trundles past leaving a mean drum beat in its wake as the song swells toward eerie, orgasmic crescendo.
An unarmed teenager was killed today is beginning to be something I am, personally, becoming numb to. There are so many levels to this type of thing that it makes my head hurt trying to figure out how something like this happens and why it's this often. So, I'm not going to name the names that inspired the writing of this particular post or tell the story of the boy who was, most recently, shot by the cops. I'm not going to ask why people can't just see other people as human beings just like themselves, or why the media, dependent on world view, paints a victim in whatever shade of funeral garb suits their particular agenda. I'm not going to judge it at all.
It's simple for me. A dead kid is a dead kid, and that is sad. And unarmed dead kid slaughtered in the streets is worse. Whatever happened to: "Stop, or I'll shoot?"
Life means less and less everyday. That is a fact. As the division between rich and poor grows ever wider, people without money are going to be ground up for meat soon enough. Their lives mean nothing. Throw some gang signs on them, and it's their own fault they're dead. They deserved it.
This post is about #IfTheyGunnedMeDown
It's a smart way to see people in all their clothes. Meaning, some days I'm a thug and some days I'm a princess. All days I am the same person.
And I don't deserve to die because I wore a hoody on Tuesday of last week when I was feeling funky and wanted the whole world to know that I was tuning them out by hiding in the waves of my hood. Or posing with some menace. Or throwing up a gang sign that I don't really understand or care about --- shit just looks cool, man.
Check out the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown pics. See that people are just people.