Riding the five train with the ghost of Ramarley Graham. Shit’s packed as hell and he’s right next to me, so close I can smell his cologne and hear his headphones. He’s bumping Biggie.
Last night a Colombian girl in my class told me her boyfriend grew up stupid poor, and Tupac was his ONLY male role model coming up. Pac was a daddy, an uncle to him, a vision of the best it could be. Was it the same for Ramarley? Hustling is a must?
We won’t ever know. Now he’s in the wind and we’re wondering what the fuck was wrong with that cop… Why’d he go so hard for the young blood, had him running and puffing and pulling up his pants, dodging and ducking trying to get the fuck outta trouble’s path. But the cop didn’t stop, didn’t slow down even when Ramarley secreted himself in the bathroom of his apartment, Grandma down the hall hollerin “Ra, what’s all the rush, and who is that banging on my door like the damn police?”
The man bust down the door and shot Ramarley point blank
no please not thanks
no put the weapon the floor
and your hands on your motherfucking head,
just blam just dead.
With his Grams in the hallway and a bag of smoke in the shitter. A bag of reefer the cost of a young man’s life?
Seem like the devil’s arithmetic to me, all over again.
‘Cept the SS wear NYPD on their uniform and the Jews are young black men.
Ramarley slips his headphones off and leans in to see what I’m writing. He nods his head and says “tell ‘em about Trayvon.”
They know about Trayvon, man, least they should by now, the way we posted and reposted blogged and tweeted and screamed our collective scream of WTF. The way we rallied and marched, chanted and screamed, fists pumped defiantly in the faces of Sixth Avenue, punching the night sky with our vocal chords straining, voices breaking.
Made the President stand up and make a statement. Before the rally the White House wouldn't release a statement, saying it was just local news.
Now he had to say something. ”If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” Yeah if Obama had a soon look like you too Ramarley. And he’d grow up to look like Sean Bell, wiling out ta the strip club for his bachelor party, ready to put the ring on the finger of his queen the very next day but shot down in a parking lot. Unarmed. He’d get older and look like Amadou Diallo. Like Rodney King. Look dangerous, suspicious, a threat? Like you, Ramarley. Hood prince, young buck, unarmed. Shot dead in your grandmama’s bathroom.
And she ain’t stopped crying since the hammer hit the primer, since the shot rang out.
We ain’t stopped crying since Emmett Till. Since Malcom X. Since Fred Hampton. Since MLK. Medgar Evans. Since Oscar Grant. Since Rodney took those blows. This one had a wallet, that one a cell phone, SKITTLES AND AN ARIZONA… More like a target sign blazing on his chest like superman’s S.
Target practice for overzealous fingers of men taught to fear people different then themselves. People who see constructed race before they even consider human race. People who see dark skin, a hoodie, a step with some swagger, and decide that this threat has to be neutralized. A threat.
Take the names off the people and make them a threat. Give them a prison number. Give them a gold star and a concentration camp tattoo. A string of numbers instead of a face.
My people are sick. The human race is riddled with a cancer. Come call it racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, call it whatever the fuck you want and you’d be right. It’s time to carve that shit out of the body collective. And question who the fuck poisoned us in the first place. Who is served when we are divided and turned against each other? Who profits off producing and maintaining these lines cutting the people off from one another? Who produces the fear and hatred and why’d they put in the effort?
We get to 180th and Ramarley gives me a pound before he steps off the train. He’s catching the Two up to Wakefield, I’ll stay on the Five. His lips are by my ear. “Peace, Shorty. Stay up.”
I wipe the wet off my face and close my eyes and my notebook. What now?