When I think about the current state of affairs in the United States, I reflect on my emotions and how they’re directly correlated to the Five Stages of Grief. Denial—this isn’t permanent, right? Bargaining—if I have these uncomfortable conversations with close-minded people, maybe I can help educate them? Depression—it takes all of five minutes of reading the news or going through my social media feeds before I begin to cry of another injustice or another innocent person dying at the hands of a corrupt system. Anger—I believe I will never not be angry about all that is going on. Acceptance—I will never accept acts of racism, hate, oppression, or injustice. Never.
While myself and much of the world are mourning the lives of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, I have also reflected on:
EJ Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr
This is just a very small list of the hundreds of thousands of innocent African American male lives that were taken by the hands of racist cops, and that list doesn’t even include the women who lost their lives.
I mention these men specifically because they were all under 22 years old at the time of their deaths. They were younger or the same age as my brother who died in an accident 12 years ago. Today would’ve been his 34th birthday. Just like most of these young men and boys, my brother won’t ever be someone’s husband or father. They will never have wrinkles, gray hairs or laugh lines—the things we often take for granted, the physical signs that we have lived, the privilege and mementos of aging.
For the past few weeks my emotions have been heightened. I’m reliving the many times I’ve gone through the 5 Stages, again and again. And if you’ve ever experienced a great loss of life, you know that this cycle never ends. You never stop missing your loved one(s). You will never accept their death. A part of you will always be missing. That part left when they did.
I cry because the families of the names mentioned above are still grieving, too. Like me, they lost their brother or sister, child, or father. This is unacceptable.
In honor of my brother, I am making additional donations to Black Lives Matter and the following tagged organizations in his name. I strongly encourage you to do so, too, if you haven’t already.
So, if you are not fighting or listening and learning, protesting or donating, calling or E-mailing your local and state officials, or supporting BIPOC businesses, I ask that you to do so now. This is the time we have to make a change. We cannot allow this to continue. If you don’t agree with me, and cannot find space in your heart to help fight for racial equality, then please, do yourself a favor and click that unfollow button right now. Please. Because one of the biggest life lessons I have learned in my grief, is to not waste a second more on those who don’t deserve my time.
Black Lives Matter.