© 2022 Kevin Allred
December 4, 2014
We have a problem. You’ve been sneaky and you’ve gotten away with it for far too long. All along, in fact. You cloak your racism and bigotry in patriotism. You make it impossible for those oppressed to appeal for their rights, safety, and very lives because you are the masked force denying them in the first place. You scold us for destroying your property. We beg you for our lives. You instruct us to be patient. We plead with you for air. We can’t breathe. The air is toxic - it’s filled with the ash of our ancestors, friends, family that you stole from us. When we won’t comply, you beat us. When we question, you kill us. And that’s not enough. You pollute our memory to all within earshot once we’re gone. You blame us for our own murder. You call us thugs, no good, criminals simply for existing. This is a genocide - but we’re not surprised because you’re no stranger to genocide.
I grew up in religious, conservative Utah - white faces as far as the eye can see, including my own. I remember one black girl in my kindergarten class and I remember her name was Adejoke, but by 1st grade she had moved elsewhere - hopefully somewhere more welcoming and affirming. I’ll never know where she went or what happened to her or the story that brought her to Utah in the first place. I hope she is well. I didn’t see another black face in my town until college. Where were they? It’s easy not to think about race and racism when you only see white faces - in school, on TV, in the movies.
There were a number of reasons I “woke up” regarding these issues - one being that even in that homogenous white environment, I was different. I’m gay. But my skin is still white and I am usually able to walk in the world unscathed. But my background taught me what privilege is. White privilege. I have lived it, benefited from it, learned to recognize and criticize it, even co-opted it for my own purposes. I’ve been disgusted by it, sick to my stomach because of it, and hopeless because it seems so pervasive. It remains unrecognized by those that need to recognize it most. And when your beloved privilege is challenged, you shoot us with tear gas. We’ve tried our best and it’s not enough. YOU ARE WHAT’S WRONG, AMERIKKKA - NOT US!!!
You have no morals or conscience to which we can appeal. You have no sense of equity or fairness that we can lean on, trust in. We have our bodies, we have our rage, we have our voices. And I hope these words kill you. I hope each syllable stops your beating heart. I hope each consonant hits you like a bullet, tearing up your insides like you have torn up countless communities and bodies. I hope each vowel is a noose around your neck. I hope every noun annihilates your existence. I hope every verb paralyzes you. I hope every adjective cuts an artery and every adverb stabs your soulless body. I hope these words haunt you each night and leave you terrified to leave the house during the day. And even if all this came to be, you’d still be getting off easy.
We cry our tears dry. We gasp for any available oxygen. We stand on soil still soft with hundreds of years of innocent blood, while evil still flows through your veins. I hope these words kill you, Amerikkka. Until you die, none of us can be free. Until you die, we simply can’t breathe.