“What is wrong with this world?” Just keeps repeating in my head over and over again. The only words spoken from a child at a vigil I went to for Alton Sterling, the father that was murdered by police for selling CDs at a convenience store, he had permission to do so at. A black man that was thrown to the ground, damn near pinned under a car, hands pulled behind his back and shot point blank for selling CDS to make money to feed his family. A human being that had his execution recorded by bystanders for the whole world to see. Another person of color killed by the police. Another hashtag. Another moment when the media will portray the victim as a monster and the police as the hero. Another case that will see no justice. Another body. Another family without a father. Not a fucking other one. Another morning waking up to find that there was more bloodshed, of an innocent person.
It had only been a month since I had woke up and been rocked to my core with the Orlando shooting. I had just gotten to a place in my life where I wasn’t scared to be gay. I have just within the last year come fully out as a bisexual woman, and spent the day before the Orlando shooting at my first “out” Pride. I was so excited to meet up with my girlfriend that night at the one place we could freely love each other, and dance the night away. That next morning, we both woke up from nightmares of mass shootings, to find out 49 people, our people, had been gunned down in a club just like the one we had been at. All I could think about is, it could have been me. For weeks, it repeated. For weeks, I was scared to hold my love’s hand. For weeks, it kept repeating… it could have been me. I vividly remember meeting up with one of my closests friends to talk about how I was feeling. We shared the trauma of Trayvon, Mike Brown, the Ferguson Riots, the Baltimore Riots and countless acquittals. So naturally I called him, to help me work through the trauma of Orlando. As we sat there sharing whiskey and stories, he looked at me and said “You’ve survived this long as a black woman, you can survive as gay as well.” The saddest and truest statement I’ve ever heard. I have survived shootings of people of color, people that look like me for years and that the notion of being shot because of my sexuality, is really no different.
Then life goes on and the murmur quiets and you wake up one morning and watch someone get executed, simply for being black and it all comes back again. With all the other shootings, I’d go to a protest or a march, in hopes people would notice. Yet nothing changes. I, like many others, post about “consciousness” to help get people inspired. Yet nothing changes. I host shows to build community, invite people to step out of the comfort zone, in the hopes that someone will learn the true plight of the marginalized and make moves to fight for justice. Yet nothing changes. So when I saw there was a vigil at a church I had to go because maybe, just maybe I could make sense of all of this. In the past 15 years, I’ve only been in a church for one wedding and three funerals. While I have my own beliefs about organized religion, I also believe in the power of community and really just needed to be with other people hurting. Honestly, I didn’t know what else to do or where else to go. I’ve been to bars with friends, and nothing changed. I’ve been to the Statehouse, and nothing changed. Maybe just maybe, if I step into the house of “God”, something would change. I listened to people just as confused, sad and angry, say the same thing… it could have been me.
Towards the end of the vigil, a woman came up to speak. She stood there as a proud Mexican Muslim mother and proclaimed herself as an ally. She told us how she made two of her sons and their friend attend the event, in hopes that they too would grow up to be allies. She had them come up to stand next to her, as she wanted them to show their support. They stood there and what I assume is her son around the age of 10, asked to speak. He grabbed the microphone and simply just said… “what is wrong with this world?” And like that, the room broke down, gasping for air. In that moment, we all realized it’s not about the fact that it could be us. It’s bigger than that. These babies, our children are watching as police execute the people they supposedly protect. These children are learning the cruel reality of the society we are setting them up to live in. Children are growing up to learn they or their friends could be gunned down for no reason. Children are living in fear of Donald Trump being President. Children are learning rape is a drunken mistake, if you’re white. Children are learning, that walking through a neighborhood can get you killed, if you’re black.
For a night the murmur changed from “it could be me” to “what is wrong with this world”. My focus came off of me but onto what can I do to save the children. It’s a start, it’s a change. Then I wake up to another execution… it could be me. Wake up to a mass shooting at a police station… what’s wrong with this world. And yet nothing changes.