The PTSD of my blackness keeps me up at night: sweating, crying, and wondering when America will stop killing Us.
It’s triggered every time I hear another “not guilty” or “decision not to indict,” protecting our militarized, racist police state.
But the decision not to seek charges against the officers responsible for the death of Tamir Rice triggered something particularly dark and made me feel desperately tired.
I’m consumed with flashback after flashback of the times it could have been me.
I thought about being pulled over as I drove from my grandma’s neighborhood. I was driving a new Honda hatchback with a small dog on my lap. Two cop cars surrounded me, one officer with his hands on his belt, in a quest to find two shooters driving a Ford Taurus.
He was only 12.
There was the humiliation at a Kentucky club where I tried to deescalate a disagreement between two white friends and a white employee. The employee sent an off-duty officer, who was moonlighting as a security guard, to follow us off of the property. Even though I wasn’t involved in the conflict in any way, the officer followed us down a street on to private property and threatened my arrest—without saying anything to my white friends.
It wasn’t a real gun.
A police car followed me down the street after an airport shuttle dropped me off on the wrong side of my sister’s apartment building. The backwards hat and baggy sweater disguised my age, and it didn’t take long for an officer to stop his vehicle, ask me what I was doing, then proceed to stand on the sidewalk in front of my sister’s apartment building until I found her key.
A white bouncer questioned my sister’s ID because her “hair was different.” As my sister requested her ID back and attempted to leave the establishment, the bouncer took her ID across the street to a police officer who happened to be sitting near the establishment. The bouncer kept repeating, “You’re going to be arrested! You’re going to be arrested!” After the officer asked my sister about her social security number and my mother’s name, he didn’t find it necessary to apologize for any inconvenience. He told us, “This happens all of the time. You should understand.”
I lie here, violently sobbing at 4 a.m.
Because even in my pain, I had a chance to live and feel my blackness until 27. And Tamir won’t.
He spent four minutes without medical attention—so much longer than the two seconds it took for gunshots to confirm that black lives don’t matter in America.
In a country that says I’m disposable, the PTSD of my blackness chokes me—mind, body and soul.
And I can’t breathe.
Marchae Grair is many things. A Netflix addict, puppy enthusiast, songbird, Millennial dreamer, and God lover, to name a few. She is the editor of New Sacred and social media associate for the United Church of Christ. Twitter: @MarchaeGrair