[Pnews] Being Black in America Means Being a Target

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 9 11:39:16 EDT 2015

April 09, 2015

*Being Black in America Means Being a Target*

  Shoot Me


What is has always been.

In America, black people have always been targeted, stalked, terrorised, 
tortured, murdered. Sometimes what I need people to understand is that 
this is normal. What is not normal is how you’re finding out about it. 
Reading these words on your computer screen about such a thing is not 

But our deaths are normal. The killing of Walter Scott is normal. The 
rules have been in place, and they haven’t changed. What are these 
rules? Don’t slouch, don’t relax, don’t exhale, don’t walk too tall, 
don’t walk too close, don’t act too proud, be more humble, and if they 
ask you why you are wherever you are just smile and nod and explain. And 
smile. These have been the rules.

Shoot me.

The revolution will not be televised, tweeted, liked, or favorited. But 
the deaths will be. The shootings keep getting shot and reshot. And 
replayed. They get their own hashtags. But when you look at it, there is 
nothing actually happening. Nothing has changed. What is has always been.

If you ask most people, black or white, when the worst part of black 
history was, they’ll say “slavery”. And they’ll be wrong. The worst, 
bloodiest time in black history was 1890 to 1920. After emancipation, 
after reconstruction. After the laws that said that black lives 
mattered.  And we were terrorised, we were lynched, we disappeared.

Our bodies would float in the Mississippi so much that you could mistake 
us for the water flowing.

My younger brother will turn 18 and graduate high school next month. He 
will move away from home and attend college. What are the things people 
normally think about when this happens? For us, the normal thing to 
think of is death. My brother is 17 and all I can think of is his 
pending graduation and his murder.

What is it like to take a sibling like mine for granted? What is it like 
to imagine him going away to college and being happy? Maybe he drinks? 
Meets a girl? Discovers his passion? Travels? I don’t think of these things.

I think about how he must keep from being alone at dark near police.

Isn’t that funny? I bet most white parents would tell their children to 
seek out a cop if ever caught alone unawares. Not us.

Dear brother, if you see a cop, do not run, do not walk, do not. Do not. 
Do not. Just collapse. Play dead.

Play dead.

Then I think of how much I wish I could guard my brother somehow. At all 
times, I’d be in front of him and when the cops come I’d bare my chest.

And I’d say shoot me.

I’d shout at them to shoot me.

I’d order them to shoot me.

I’d beg them to shoot me.

I’d plead with them to shoot me.

And I’m willing to do that. For my brother I plan to do that. For my 
sister I plan to do that. For my father, for my mother I will do that.

For my country.

Shoot me.

/*Linda Chavers* received her PhD in African American Literature from 
Harvard University in 2013. Originally from Washington, DC, she 
currently lives and writes in New Hampshire./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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