Dear George Floyd,
Written in sadness, solidarity & Love for your loved ones and those Grieving.
I’m breathing fire, the air my body is taking in right now. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen, that flows into my lungs, coaxed inside from the downward vacuum pull of my diaphragm. The flubbing of my heart, continuing to pound, giving me Life, feeding my grieving body. I am not particularly worthy of this air; it belongs, as all atoms do, to the World, to the Things, to Us, to everything of, with, and by the World. And yet, a World in which Human Worth, Black male human worth, has to be fought for. A social World, fucked up: violating, killing, raping, murdering, harming non-(White, male, cis-gendered, heteronormative, citizen, wealthy) bodies from which it elementally consists.
Tear this World apart, limb by limb. Do it quickly. Do it now. There is nothing that can be reformed, redeemed foundationally, at the very roots, that would provide equitable social conditions for all bodies, no matter social identification. Shred it, now.
You are not taking in air any longer, yet your atoms are and will always be part of this World, just as mine are. I can’t help but think that molecules of the air I am breathing right now once graced your lungs.
These ideas are nothing new: The Minneapolis police who murdered you see our bodies differently; Minneapolis residents, visitors, fellow humans in this geographic Mississippi/Great Lakes region called “Minneapolis” see our atoms differently. Two human bodies: socially a Black man and a White woman. Swirling chemicals, muscle, tissue, bone, vibrating electrons, pieces of hair. Fingers, toes, hangnails, eyelashes. A complex of socially-acceptable clothing, behaviors, emotions, actions. Responsibilities pulling, articulation of Purpose, perhaps. Mothers, called to from our bodies. Mothers, loved through our bodies. From each of our conceptions, our bodies were seen, treated, affected by Society differently. This city, this Society, this country, this history, this culture, those Minneapolis police officers took your air while I continue to have mine.
I don’t want these words to commodify your body, to make your Being, essence, energy, into something that’s generalized, simplified, used as a social construction of a Black male body. And yet, that is exactly what this State-Supported, Sponsored, Condoned Murderous System does. This System is larger than any one life, yours and/or mine. It leans on a constructed notion of Control and Punishment, arbitrary definitions that have been ritualized, burned into brick and neural tissue. Undergirding, essence, sinew of white supremacy, capitalism, racism; the System is an entity of the People, of a capitalistic People, driven to violence, individualism, an unquenchable need for Punishment. Punishment ritualistically, fundamentally falling onto the racial and gendered social conception of the Black man. A social construction that you, George, were perceived as (and perhaps personally identified with). These racialized and gendered characterizations/stereotypes/cultures/beliefs are larger than any one person in this entire World, and that means that no one is in full possession of their Body, of their Being.
I don’t know anything about you other than how you are socially identified. I don’t know where you grew up, what your personality was like; I don’t know your friends, family, passions, annoyances. I don’t know what made you human, I only know those Minneapolis police officers saw a Black male body, just as I do as I watch the tape. (And if this System doesn’t see you as a human, this System has no, NO redeemable/“fixable” constituents. TEAR IT APART. This is not a new notion ... ) That’s when Society casts its cold, calculated, fabricated, murderous hand. Those officers took your life. Your life was reduced to a social construct in the eyes of those officers. Breath and body, being. Conflict and flicker, flow. Movement, dance, articulation, frictions.
And your atoms are still on this Earth, not pulling in air.