Melissa Ali

The last time I cried for a Black person shot by the police was when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Officer Loehmann in 2014 for playing in the park.

The last time I felt rage for a Black person shot by the police was when 23-year-old Korryn Gaines was killed and her five-year-old son Kodi was shot by Officer Royce Ruby over a traffic warrant.

The last time I felt pain permeate my soul for a Black person shot by the police was when I watched Officer Yanez’s bullets penetrate Philandro Castile, fatally shooting him during a traffic stop in front of his fiancée Diamond, her four- year-old daughter, and Facebook live.

The last time I felt disgust about the death of a Black person under the remand of the police was when 28-year-old Sandra Bland allegedly hanged herself in a jail cell with no physical evidence (finger prints, method, or video surveillance) that proved suicide.

From 2015 to 2020, 5,000 Black men, women, and children have been killed because of implicit bias, racism, fear, and anti-Blackness that is pervasive in the policing of this nation.

Numbness flows through my veins with the coldness of the Antarctic Ocean.
Heart broken,
unable to grieve,
and traumatized.
I can only manage to study these deaths with the eyes of an analyst.
I can tell you the exact moment George Floyd took his last breath.
I can give you a minute by minute recall from the time Breonna Taylor was killed until they removed her from her home.
I can tell you why it took 74 days for the police to arrest the murders of Ahmaud Arbery.

But what I cannot do is shed a tear,
feel any pain,
or muster up any anger for the unjustified deaths.
I am numb.
That I too
Can’t breathe.


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Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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