Growing trees helps my brain comprehend murder

As if they're going somewhere and I have to preserve their memory. I feel like my husband and I trade every six months to a year which one of us is going to lose a cousin or a friend of a friend to a senseless shooting. We've lost more young men in New York and Jamaica personally than we have in the war. That is, personally. And I didn't want details of his cousin. I didn't want to hear anything. I'm numb to it. Being black, being Jamaican, being "not rich", puts me in a war. I sit and watch the young men in my school and I keep wondering if Harlem really is a changed place. I left Brooklyn because 1 - I was priced out and 2 - on of my block corners was in the middle of a turf war. Chalk lines on the regular. The kid on the Utica express gunned down as he was getting on. Seeing I was new to the area, I wasn't numb yet and I flipped out. I don't flip out anymore. I just keep making trees. I stay up all night until I'm properly exhausted making trees. Because that's what we become right? We're buried or cremated. We are put in the ground or sprinkled on top. We become fertilizer and compost for the life still living. In the end it seems we all become trees. Our blood becomes grass. Our hearts bark. Sap our tears. The leaves hold pieces of our dna and spirit. When the wind blows and shares our spirit with all those around, again, we go to the ground. We are eaten by scavangers. We are digested as fertilizer, for the trees. We die and we grow again.

I'm beaten down by war. I want this political war to stop. I'm so exhausted. The real war is making me cry. The unspoken of, misunderstood war on my family continues to be discredited by general society and lawmakers. Sean Bell is on my mind constantly because I know this entire community is too exhausted to keep fighting. It's not that it's a different New York, it's just that we've heard to same story over and over and it's like we know it's not changing. There will be the New York Post brainwashing the minds of readers and attorneys swaying the minds of a jury to believe that a guy and his friends that may have been smoking pot that night and may have a shady background (not true)deserve 50 bullets. 50 bullets by a police office into an unarmed citizen does not equal jail time, guilty sentence, anything. It warrants full acquittal. The one thing I miss about the south is at least on occassion, cops in the wrong go to jail and are held accountable. I have yet to see it here. It's a joke at this point. And I think it is so sad and disturbing that we are to exhausted to go into the streets and march like the past. It's because our soap boxes are guarded by cops, ready to break up a forming crowd immediately. It's because we don't want our own neighborhoods destroyed by anger and ignorance.

What people of color face is beyond what many, many people can comprehend because they just don't understand the loss of someone by murder. Once you know murdered people, your body is jarred into this static, suffocating void in your mind because the ultimate sin has been committed and you must move forward. You must keep living. You have to accept that crimes will go unsolved thanks to no snitching. Cops will continue to feel justified by wrongful verdicts letting them have free reign. Economic disparity will continue to escalate crime and despair and ignorance.
It's all a bunch of shit. I am an exhausted woman saddened because I care of the bigger picture outside of myself and my home. And the only way I find solace in the shit around me is to look into each face and each nature-created substance, from my daughter's eyes to water to clouds to my husband's back to my own paint stained hands. I look at these things and I do what moves my spirit. I keep making trees. I keep seeing the bigger picture of the world around me. We can kill ourselves with war and destroy our ecosystem with pollution, but when we're long gone, and even trees may be long gone, the earth will still find a way to spin in the universe. Even if it's in bits, it will still spin. And the essence of me, will still be there. The chemicals, dna, energy that make me who I am will still be here, there or somewhere. So I stick with the trees. They symbolize that death and rebirth.

If I wouldn't have to explain it to my daughter one day, I'd lynch some guns up on my tree. I have a list of things to hang in my tree that are causing the destruction of the culture I know. But I keep it clean, family friendly and something I'll look at to be inspired to press forward. I don't want to visualize my sadness and mostly my anger somewhere and in something I'll see every day.


  1. It is so interesting, because no matter how many friends of color I have, no matter how much I immerse myself in the latino culture around me, I will always be that privileged suburban white boy. I will never be able to really understand what it's like to be a person of color. But that's okay. Because it's not going to stop me from trying.

    By the way, I loved this part..pure beauty: "I don't flip out anymore. I just keep making trees. I stay up all night until I'm properly exhausted making trees."

  2. Anonymous1:09 PM

    How heartbreaking that kind of despair is, the despair of knowing that nothing will be done.

    When I lived in Brooklyn, there was a culture in New York of "it's the same everywhere." Well, it is and it isn't. I can live in a much nicer place on far less money in the D.C. suburbs than in Brooklyn. Instead of the frequent street crime I experienced in New York, there is very little crime in our little neck of the woods, which is predominantly white, but still diverse.

    I suppose there are two choices -- stay and try to fight it, or leave and escape it. I hope you'll consider the second choice.


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