The sun may have risen in the last 48 hours like clockwork, but nothing has been the same as it was before in the city of Chicago.
My city is on fire.
My people are on fire.
Everyone is sharing the infamous quote of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A riot is a language of the unheard.” But they’re leaving out the very next sentence…“What has America failed to hear?”
America has been silencing us for hundreds of years and this is the breaking point. I may not be in the streets but the rage is still inside.
I may be sitting from my home but my spirit is with my brothers and sisters in the streets, angry, yelling, protesting, rioting, looting.
We deserve this moment. For our frustrations to manifest in “damage,” for our anger to be outward displays and cries to be seen. We deserve to take what we don’t have, what hasn’t been provided to us, even if it’s in our own community.
Because what America has failed to hear is our cries of justice being served when we die at the hands of those who were supposed to protect us. America has failed to hear the students who grow up to be adults who didn’t receive the education they deserved to be “forced” into situations that have led to death or jail as a result of no options. America has failed to hear the cries of the people who can’t watch birds or build lemonade stands or sell water from their stoop. America has failed to hear the parents of our black boys and girls who know that they’re babies deserve a better life and don’t have the option of choosing a school outside of their neighborhood.
And this week our schools have completely shut down. No food distribution to the thousands of families who have relied on the meals of stability in an economic downward spiral. The spaces that should be committed to serving, the district that has a chance to step up and show solidarity, chose to close schools for “safety.”
Who are you keeping safe?
From your position of privilege, you removed the necessities of life and expect “remote learning” to continue? Your decision to stop distribution of food fuels the system of inequity that we’re fighting against—another clear indication that “schools” in the traditional sense weren’t created for my people.
So, this day, not only is my community burning, but my students and the babies of our community are suffering. Starving. What do you think happens when people can’t get food to feed their families? When the jobs are lost? When we are still in the middle of a pandemic?
I am enraged.
The tension of behaving like any day is an ordinary day from the moment I realized I was black has led to many occasions of smiling to hide the pain. Being on the verge of tears and terror. Constantly.
My city is on fire.
And rightfully so.
And we will rebuild from this day. And the next day. And the days to come.
But for right now…
If you can’t hear us, you will see us.
This is only the beginning…