Now What?

Not guilty.

Now what? What do we do now? Where do we turn? Who do we turn to, except each other to grieve and travail as despair and fear grip our souls mamas?

What do we do women of color? Jim Crow’s ghost is laughing at us, reminding us yet again that it is a crime for our men to even exist, reminding us yet again that ever since they were first chained to ships bound for these shores, our men are not worthy of life and freedom.

Black & brown manhood has once again been demonized, criminalized, and deemed a threat to humanity, and allowed to be stalked and hunted like prey by predators blinded by fear, insecurity and delusion.

Profiled in broad daylight.

Hunted in the dark.


Killed by them and by each other. Every. Day. By the hundreds.

What do we do now? What do we tell our babies? How do we raise our sons? How do we dress them? Where can we send them to keep them safe from urban violence and from the suburban neighborhood watchman with a gun?

What is enough? Education? Income? Manners? No…seems like it was for awhile but that got ripped from us tonight. Again.

How do we change the system if we can’t become it because they’re closing our schools and putting our men in prison? How do we fight systemic legal and cultural oppression?

When will our voice be heard? How much longer do we have to go on killing ourselves everyday? How many more of our futures must be killed and destroyed by violence? By systemic and cultural oppression?

When will our anger be deemed righteous and worthy enough to receive and initiate effective change for ourselves and our men? Our baby boys?

Not guilty. What do we DO now? Except hold our sons and feel the crushing weight of guilt for bringing them into a world & society that doesn’t value their personhood shatter our hearts?

I am a wailing woman tonight. A woman travailing in despair for the lives of brown boys and brown men in this country. For my sons. For my husband. For my brother. For your men, your sons.

What do we do? What do we tell them to encourage them to be who they are when who they are is on trial every day? Misunderstood, demonized, criticized, devalued, and dehumanized on a daily basis?

What do we do besides hold our babies tonight and feel hopeless and terrified to send them out into the world and see pain and maybe death too soon in their future?

How do we fight? Where do we fight? WHO do we fight? When will our fight for them and their fight for themselves matter?

When will brown men and brown people matter in this country? We haven’t since Columbus set foot on this continent. We have been fighting genocide and for our existence for that long. When will the fight for survival end?

A brown man can be sent to jail for fighting and killing dogs. But if he fights for his life after he’s stalked and confronted? He goes on trial for his own death and his killer is handed the gun that ended his life as he goes home. Free.

Not guilty.

What do we do?


5 thoughts on “Now What?

  1. I have no words right now. I’ve been a state of sadness and shock. I honestly, didn’t watch the trial because I knew it would be a not guilty verdict but I guess hope was there and now it’s crushed.

    • Me neither Vikki. I don’t want to feel so hopeless & disillusioned right now but I do and I am. For the first time in my life all of my idealism and optimism about race relations, equality, women’s rights, gay rights and so much else has just been washed away. I’m stuck. Searching for hope again.

      I don’t know what we do mama.

  2. My friend. First of all, this is a stunning piece of writing. I heard your voice in my head as I read it and your passion. And hope. I know you feel hopeless right now, but I still hear hope in your voice. That you believe we can be better – that you demand we be better. I know you’re asking “now what?” but remember that you’re implying that something comes next. And that something has to be more than now. It just has to be.

    I was people watching at the mall today, wondering how many of the shopper’s lives were affected by the verdict. By the trial. By the murder itself. How many weren’t affected but had it on their minds? And how many had already moved on with their lives – because it isn’t a part of their world? And I honestly found myself drawn to African American men and women – wanting to go up and apologize. Wanting to make it better. As if I could solve race relations outside the food court all by myself.

    I understand why legally the not guilty verdict was returned. By the letter of the law, nothing “technically” illegal was done. But what about the spirit of the law? And if not even that, HOW IS WHAT HAPPENED NOT ILLEGAL?! Yes, I’m shouting.

    I don’t know how we legislate racism. I don’t know if we can. But something has to change, because our culture sure isn’t doing it quickly enough on its own.

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