We’ve been asked multiple times over the course of the past three weeks what we would like bystanders to do if we are stopped by police and abused. I try not to think about the expectations I have of others should they see my life fading away. It is easier to plan my funeral. I do so often. Recently took up holding my breath for chunks at a time so that it wouldn’t be so frightening when I felt it all escaping from my lungs and not coming back. I want trees planted when I die. Fruit trees, flowering trees. Trees that gave and sustained life. Any variation of 11 will suffice. 11 trees, 1100 trees, 11,000 trees… enough to give and sustain life on the planet that took mine.
There will be a list of names and numbers I have memorized just in case I am caught between law enforcement and my life. I will scream them one by one as I am dying. My mother and aunt will line up their warriors who will have newly sharpened weapons. I will apologize profusely to my daughter and partner for not being strong enough. To my best friends for not visiting. I tried my hardest to pull the money and resources together. It was never enough. To my siblings for leaving them before I wanted to. I hope they always remember that they are stronger together.
With the last of my strength I will scream that I am Black, Femme, Womyn, Mother and Lesbian. I want them to count me. I want to be under each and every one of the statistical categories that I fit under. I worked the bulk of my life to identify myself correctly. In every section of this nation, they box me out because of those very identifiers. I wonder how often Black and lesbian together are tallied. Do they ever receive statistical acknowledgement? Who gets charged for hate crimes against us? Will I not deserve to be memorialized in the growing numbers? Are we invisible?
I have come to terms with my own mortality. I have done so more than once over the course of many years. While walking the streets alone, coming out to the world (over and over), saying no to men’s advances, saying goodbye to forgotten Black women.
Contrary to popular belief, Black women aren’t invincible. We aren’t invincible. We aren’t invincible. We are not invincible. You have a better time understanding things when they are repeated. We all have come to terms with our mortality. We have no choice. We know that we may not count for anything. That we will be forgotten quickly if we are remembered at all. We are the front row of everyone’s fights so that they can live to be remembered. Even if no one is in the front row of ours.
If you do nothing else while watching me lose my life, make sure that all of me is counted. It will be easy for folks to rally around my femininity, my blackness and my motherhood. I don’t want easy. I want wholeness.
When the last of me is gone, I hope to be watching parades of Black Lesbians holding me in their hearts. Screaming that they saw me. Screaming for everyone else to now see them. Each will have a little tree… a little life to give to the world who’s been taking theirs from them.