They kill us in the future. Before we were even born, we died. Physically and symbolically, childbirth is indeed a farewell to the possibility of fully experiencing the generation that should welcome us as the newest chance for a new beginning. No, what awaits us is goodbye. Perhaps this is the first word we learn without having to say it: goodbye. We left.
For the past week, as if it were a mold stain eating away at all the thoughts I’ve had—at home, at work, in the few conversations with a few friends, in the minutes before bed, in the interlude from one dream to another nightmare, in those confused moments after wake up,” the phrase remained.
“They kill us in the future.” A young black woman, pregnant, is murdered, hit by a bullet whose shot was not intended to let her live, but to make her die. Departed mother and tomorrow. They killed the future in the present. Kathlen Romeo, the present, the child, the future.
Inside, all the pain seems to spread through the body. It hurts the stomach that freezes to the point of burning itself. The lungs ache which, the moment the news is brought, quicken their breathing, but then they get tired and seem about to be worthless. A mismatch that, in the absence of rhythm, takes our breath away.
In the chest, the pressure similar to punches on the ground that try, in some way, to claim what you can no longer have. We punch, punch, beg, curse, howl in pain, and nothing happens.
On the ground under the rib cage, he punches his exhausted heart with rage and sadness. We can no longer distinguish whether it is a punch or an attempt to dig the earth and find, in it, some trace of the daughter, granddaughter, girlfriend, friend, present and future contained in a single body. Despair.
On the outside, what’s left? Little. No desire to talk, explain, beg, claim more for the least, the little. They beat us by fatigue. In many battles, this is how they overwhelm us—by exhaustion.
In the meantime—and so much so—we continued. Suddenly, this is one of our most effective defenses: surviving. Still, it is far from the condition we are looking for.
Living is a basic right, and we shouldn’t have to negotiate as if it has a price or as if someone can price life.
There are, within the tiredness, different silences. The one who is silent because he thinks the questions are stupid, such as “but what can I do to help?”, or who is dumbfounded by the hatred that, as intense as love, makes words get stuck in the throat, like knots.
It must be remembered that we do not have all the answers, even though we feel we have raised all the questions. Sometimes we are quiet and still because it is within us that all change begins.
The sounds of fury, indignation, anger, all the noises, the noises, these are heard only by us —the people who still die in the future— like distant thunders of an approaching storm. Knots in the throat.
When we look at our people, we see how much we can take to get to places that remain nowhere. These are the so-called “spaces” whose construction was made by black hands, but the planning contemplated those of another color. Whether or not we are in such places has nothing to do with our abilities.
On the contrary, they are usually too small spaces to fit our greatness. They limit us with fear of taking their posts, but the stamp of expropriators is not of our ancestry. In fact, it’s not up to us.
When we look at ourselves as a people, there is no denying it: they will kill us in the future. Will the next victim be one of my friends, my sisters? What if it’s me? Sure it will be one of us — and that certainty is killing.
Many questions, few answers, but I can see in the organization of our own people better ways out than the eternal presence in the charity line, let’s say, of those who still reap us.
We have different thoughts, critical and self-critical, with the soles of our feet covered with dust from the most varied legacies, but the purpose must remain the same: the end of our genocide. Only one way.
I remember reading James Baldwin’s Next Time Fire, the texts caused anguish for not knowing what to do with such anger.
Baldwin wrote without him knowing that, today, in the future that has not yet killed me, I would hear in the silence of his words the thunders of the future.
“If, on the contrary, we dare not face it all in this desperate attempt, over our heads will hang the fulfillment of that Bible prophecy, recreated in a hymn by a slave: ‘God has given Noah the sign of the rainbow: no more water—of next time, fire!’”.
The excerpt also called for white people to fight racism, but here I will use another quote from the writer to remind you of two important points: “I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do!”. They kill us in the future.