through the inferno and over the mountaintop

Protest, like the occasional rebuttal whenever someone hurls an insult, or the organized assemblage of enraged people, are all valid forms of resistance. To impede on the anger of Black folks, as we attempt to grasp the magnitude of grueling events during these ungodly hours, is oppressive. Oppression is a concept that we’ve dealt with since we took our first breath off the shores of Africa. Though it has morphed, changed and shifted throughout the ages, the effects have been impenetrable from the very beginning. Generations upon generations have received the brunt end of reality. People of my hue haven’t been afforded grace in this nation, perhaps this world, to be frank. We have drank from the fountain of misfortune and have fastened to faith, hope and religion as a means of relief. Oh how we’ve been weary, vexed, vengeful, loving and hopeful, even.

As I peer off at the clouds, and survey the other grandeur of the earth, I am reminded why our fore-parents believed that beauty rested on the horizon. Why wouldn’t beauty befall them when the earth itself was beautiful? Why wouldn’t the earth sprout fruits of change when the earth itself was ever-changing? I am now, in this glum hour, aware of what fueled their hope. The lush sound of, “everything will be okay” echoed from the trees, the clouds, the raindrops, even the soil—that sound kept their spirits afloat, whilst their heads were often beneath the tides.

Sandra, Tamir, Breonna, Ahmaud, Rekia, Korryn, Philando, Michael, Christian, Roy, Kayla, Shantel, Emmett, Aiyana, Dover, Isaiah, George, Tony, Trayvon, Bettie, Kevin, Leroy, Nathanial, Cornelius, Alonzo, Jamar, India, Christian, Billy, Spencer, Kris, Richard, Kevin, Brandon, Monika, Anthony, Natasha, and the plethora of other executed Black bodies. Cleveland, Alston, Minneapolis, Money, Ferguson, Sanford, Chicago, Atlanta, Hayward, Barstow, Virginia Beach, Arlington, Hempstead, and the plethora of other ground zeros.

Morals, etiquette, justifiable rationale, all of these things are being pivoted to the forefront of our collective consciousness—as a way to demoralize our rage. Weaponizing what has happened—the demise of unarmed Black men and Black women, further foster the notion that liberation will be the subsequent effect to us adhering to the rules. The rules have shackled us, kept us secluded and isolated, barred us from adequate resources and have buried us in mass graves soiled with ancestral tears. George Floyd uttered, “I can’t breathe” as he gasped and fought for his final breath. What an immoral and inhumane way to ascend. Sandra Bland knew the laws of the land, however suffered at the exact laws she had known. Morality isn’t our kin. Morality has whipped us into submission, and we aren’t trailing in a singular line, spearheaded by the oppressors, anymore.

As I stood within the confines of Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, I was reminded of the moment, four years ago, when I stood in that exact place of mourning to memorialize the brutality that befell Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. That searing July afternoon in 2016 seemed like it was a prelude to what has happened to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. A prelude with endless preludes of its own. The steps forward, as they seemed, were only bandaged occurrences of trauma.

In Minneapolis where George Floyd took his final breath, the people are mourning without censorship. Rioting, protesting, marching, looting, which have you—mourning has no distinct face. None of us are privileged to know of the efficacious actions that will usher us over the horizon. So as we are all without answers, I reckon that solicitation of verbal beatings should cease. Let the people make the land their own, for it was stolen from the genesis.

So as these little fires erupt across the nation, stand hand-in-hand with the enraged. Be their patrons and be their pillars. The dread of hope will no longer flash images of a brighter day, because the flames will illuminate our paths through the valley and over the mountaintop. The people are bonding together, in love and in rage, and that’s how the story should be scripted.