I See You Rekia Boyd…

rekia-boydI’ve just returned from an incredible, celebratory and relaxing time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I am not rich and nor do I have a glamorous lifestyle.  I had a little money on a credit card, some dear friends with a little room and a little imagination. And I realized that if I didn’t do something for my 50th birthday, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

But when I returned yesterday, I had a real wake up call.  I was struck by how invisible I felt.  Maybe it was the contrast of having been among such loving friends for a few days, but I could swear that no one met my eyes when I looked at them in San Diego airport; no one smiled back walking down the street in Hillcrest (touristy, white, gay neighborhood where I live); I was invisible.  And it made me feel raw.  It was such a contrast to how I felt in Mexico where people looked at me, spoke to me, smiled and even flirted with me.  I was alive and visible and I mattered.

But I don’t think its just that Mexicans are exceedingly friendly or that as a tourist, I was in high demand.  This is a United States problem.  As a black man, I am completely invisible much of the time, unless I’m perceived as a threat.  My black friends can attest to this. Every time I travel from or return to this country (and that is 5 passports worth), I get that reminder.  In fact, as I left for my weekend, I had my hair (dreadlocks) searched by TSA even though I was surrounded by white women with much more voluminous hair and easy-to-hide-things-in styles.  And when I questioned the agent (who was quite ironically a black man), he was honest and said “they don’t like the [dread]locks….”

And now I see the news of Rekia Boyd. It seems that no one was responsible for killing her.  No one was responsible for acting vigilante style while off duty. No one, mistook a cel phone for a gun; and no one fired that gun into a crowd putting a bullet in the back of her head. No one was reckless and no one was recklessly endangered.  No one did any of that, because no one sees Rekia Boyd. Like too many other black lives, male AND female, she is completely invisible in the eyes of the court, the media, education, health,…until, she is perceived to be a threat or a burden; then for as long as it takes a bullet to travel from the barrel of a gun, she becomes a haphazard target for a testosterone charged index finger that is trained to contract at the sight of black skin.

But you know what?  I see you Rekia Boyd…and God willing, many more of us see you too. And we are fighting to see more of you in headlines that don’t include the words “murder,” “victim” or “rape.”

I See You Rekia Boyd

I see you,
I see you Rekia Boyd
That night, thinking
“I’m alright”
That day, feeling
“I am loved.”

I see you…

I do not need to know you,
To see you,
Because once,
I was also 22
And just like you, I knew I was superhuman;
And funny wasn’t just funny
It was a riot…
And nights didn’t end
They became mornings…
And friends were forever,
And love was a weekend or two,
At least I hope that’s the way it was for you too…

But no worry,
I see you.

I see you,
Good choices and bad.
I see you,
In a crowd.
I see you,
Alone.
You’re alright,
You are loved,
And I pray
That others see you too.

I see you Rekia Boyd.

Gawker Article on Rekia Boyd Verdict

2 thoughts on “I See You Rekia Boyd…

  1. Respite, then renewal of indignation gives energy for change. Thank you for honoring Rekia’s life cut short. I hope her family sees this. The legal case seems so badly bungled it’s hard not to think it wasn’t culpable. I hope that at the very least this man will never again be allowed to work in police or security or the military.

  2. Pingback: Blog roundup: Casting a compelling vision « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

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