What Can We Do? Do What We Can

Your life has a trajectory and a desired outcome. There are things that only you can do. Is life hard? Incredibly at points. But nothing should ever be so hard where you think or believe you can’t go on.

Am I aware there are things in this life which such the joy and light from it? Yes. Are their days so dark where darker seems more comfortable? Sure. Are your feelings valid? Yes.

BUT THE DARK DOES PASS.

Black children disproportionately bare the brunt of the world. Black children, our children, my children, are told from birth what they are not, what they are, and given ceilings, fences or combination locks to what they can be. They are told in a thousand different ways to simply be black is a determinant to any success they may ever have.

They are told to be eloquent is to be soft, to be soft, to be articulate is to be ‘acting white’ and to demand equality from people whom hold position and power is not possible. They are told their pain doesn’t matter.

THEY ARE TOLD THEIR PAIN DOESN’T MATTER.

 

Even within the walls of their own homes, we as black parents, with all the best intentions, minimize how they feel because in our own family histories our own feelings were minimized! We were told it didn’t matter that we were hurt, mad, upset! When you tell a child their emotions don’t matter, you erode a portion of themselves away. And there are some of us (myself included) whom are parents now who are healing from those soul wounds as well.

What I have chosen to do is to allow space for my children, to be children. This means I give them space to emote, to respond, and to be children. I need them to know they matter, so when things happen to them, they have someone whom is plugged into them, loves them, and won’t judge them when life becomes hectic and they may be unsure as to what to do next. I want my children to know they have space and right to live, feel and ask for help.

Sometimes the bravest thing we can give our children is space to know they are loved, and giving them the very thing we may not have been able to have. My faith tells me that love covers a multitude of sins, and it never fails. Black children need to know that they are loved beyond measure, and they can do all they set their minds to do! That is not an option just given to and for children whom do not have parents whom are people of color.

Love is miraculous. It is an ongoing work. It is a rescuing factor in the lives of so many people. That chance should be extended to children of color. There should be a place of safety black children find in and with their families where they know they are loved, accepted and suicide is not an option because life is always an option. Even with a world they inhabit that thinks nothing of them, we should not cultivate a position which makes us at peace with throwing them away.

Suicide cheapens life. It robs our children of whom they will become. In cases where therapy is needed, allow them to go! Take advantage of services which will help them! I am a women of faith and believe in the power of prayer, and I also know to  pray depression away doesn’t always work! Some of us are healed as we go! And that too is a form of healing. That, too, is important.

The lives of black children are important. Those of us whom love them, raise them and care for them, need to remember that, all while we give boundaries and expectations.  We are their guardians of their futures, their childhoods, their lighthouses and soft places. We as parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents must provide that to them. It is of no benefit to raise a child, because they are black, in a way that makes them devoid of empathy, personal responsibility and the inability to cope with change or trauma.

Love black children because they deserve it, and the world has purposed they not be worthy of it. Love is a radical act, beloveds. So do it often.

 

 

 

[images from Google]

RUNITBACK FRIDAY-4/20/18

Remember the words of Bruce Lee: Be water.

Let’s get it.

#PultizerPrize #KingKendrick #KendrickLamar #KendrickLamarDuckworth #ElevatedGifts #MusicAward #DAMN #DAMNRight #RecognitionOfRap #Words #WordsAreTools #WeAreGreat #RacistWhiteFolkCanDieMad #TheyCanPerishAngry #IAmTChalla

The Pulitzer Prize for music was given to none other than my brother oracle, Kendrick Lamar for his 2017 album, DAMN.  The reason why the committee over this prize said his album was so worthy was because of its creative, honest nature. It was best described like this by Slate.com:

Many classical fans and musicians celebrated. The committee had lowered the barriers keeping everyone other than well-established academics and the occasional jazz musician out and had invited someone else in, because, simply, she had written the best piece in the applicant pool. (It has since become one of modern music’s most beloved classics, often topping lists of the best modern classical pieces of the 21st century.) There were some sour grapes too, but the acrimony pales in comparison to what we’ve seen this week after Kendrick Lamar’s Damn earned this year’s coveted prize, the first hip-hop album to so do. Yes, many, including the finalists who lost to Lamar, are cheering the award, hailing it as the tumbling down of another oppressive wall of musical segregation. But others are decrying it as the end of classical music—and, sure, civilization—as we know it.         

When I heard this, my ancestral self screamed and rejoiced! I was excited, I was beyond happy. I repeated the lyric from the title track from BLACK PANTHER:

“Black Panther. King Kendrick. All hail the King.” #IAmTChalla.

Of course colonizers cannot wrap their minds around what it is their whiteness cannot contain. There was such a backlash that came out after this announcement I had to laugh. That’s all I could do! The script is so rehearsed, it is memorized by those that know how to identify it. These are the same people that will repeat HUMBLE off the same album, but big mad when they find out the once pristine award could be given to someone whom they considered artistically less than.  I am glad he won it! I am glad that we as a people whom still are breaking in, bustin out and into these prestigious white spaces. We as a people are lit! And the world will have to deal with us–and sometimes we have to do as my father said, “If they don’t let you in the front door, go around the back. If the back door is locked, buss a window and jump in.”

#Starbucks #MoreThanCoffee #Philadelphia #WhatBrotherlyLove #BeingBlackInFrontOfWhitePeople #ThePoliceAreMad #ThisIsNOTWhatYouWant #2Minutes #SpacesAreOkaySaveForUs #WeDeserveMore #TheFightKeepsGoing #WeDoMoreBecauseWeNeedMore #BoycottingIsntTheIssue #ImplicitBias #RacialBias #ModernDaySitIns #CanIJustLive

There is more to this story than young black men trying to make these money moves. The manager at this Philly area Starbucks, now identified at Holly Hylton, called the police within two minutes of the young men sitting down, and they informed the counter baristas they were waiting for someone–they would order when he got there. In those two minutes, their lives exploded! There friend showed up as they were getting arrested, and they were charged with trespassing, and the raggedy black police chief sided with the officers supporting these bogus arrests, and there was a customer in the Starbucks that recorded the entire incident. The manager has now been fired.

I have been rolling this situation over all week. I have been breaking it down in personal conversation for the better part of a week. I have seen the boycott of Starbucks, the CEO coming out and trying to make this right, and even the shutting down all  stores for racial bias-bias training on May 29. It’s deeper than coffee. It’s deeper than boycott. The police were called because there are some white people, in positions of authority or otherwise, whom use the police to move black folk out of spaces where they feel outnumbered, or intimidated. The police act as the mean big brother whom will get with anyone their younger siblings tell them to get.

No more. No less.

And now it comes to light that this broad has issues with people of color and other minority identifying people. There are customers now are asking if the shut down is real and they don’t see the point of doing so. I wish I could be surprised. But these are the relatives of Kathy Rae and Regular Rachel.

#WaterIsARight #FlintMI #ItsBeenFourYears #LockUpTheGovernor #CleanWater #YouCantDrinkMoney #YouCantEatMoney #LeadIsNotCandy #LifeIsGreaterThanMoney #EPAWhereYouAt #WeCanBombSyriaButAMomCan’tMakeKoolAidForHerKids

There is something sinister about this situation in Flint, Michigan. There is something evil about this–where money is better than having clean water. With Scott  Pruitt over the EPA, Flint may never get this money! It only takes less than $100 million to fix the corrosive, lead-laden pipes in Flint. Governor Synder is an evil, evil man. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care! There is something so underhanded and so evil about this!

I can’t…everytime I hear about it, I get mad all over again. ALL OVER AGAIN. There is something to be said to be in a position of power and thinking you can do whatever you want to people! Then the water company wants to charge people for water they can’t halfway drink. Now the level of lead in the blood of these children in Flint, MI is such that now a state of emergency has been declared!

No. No ma’am.

It’s always easier to kill people than to help people. Not all death is fast either.

 

 

 

The Tears We Wish To Stop

This is a hard one for me to write about. No matter how many times I have tried to piece this together, get the words together and it never seemed right. So, I am going to write from heart.

I recently found out that a family member of mine committed suicide in a vehicle while their child was in the house. Thankfully, the child was not physically injured, but we are still missing our family member. As being someone who has dealt with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide early on as an adult, I am familiar with feeling hopeless or unworthy. However, with this situation, on top of it happening in my own family, its beyond difficult and very hard pill to swallow.

Suicidal thoughts can come from several places. Now days, living in the world of social media and instant gratification, those thoughts or feelings are more prevalent. Not dealing with situations in early childhood are most likely the starting point for feeling as if you are not worthy of life you live. Especially when if you lived in a house that was like mine.

3.) DON’T OPEN THE DOOR FOR NOBODY!

2.) DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE AT A CERTAIN HOUR FOR NOBODY!

                                         AND THE FAMOUS:    1.) WHAT HAPPENS IN MY HOUSE, STAYS IN MY HOUSE!!

Take a journey with me…

You’re 10 years old. You live in a home of complete disfunction. Your Mom and Dad are both on drugs. Your family members know about it. However, they aren’t financially capable of doing anything about it, so they can’t take you in. You are being neglected and ignored. You are being beat when your parents think you stole money from them. But  it’s really, they are high and you look like the enemy!

You are told you are better seen than heard. You go to school and get teased in the most embarrassing ways. After leaving school, you must come home to the same thing from siblings, only to  wake up and do this life all over again. Not just for another day, but for another 8-10 years.

Fast forward, and you are now 25.

You decide you can’t do this thing called life anymore.

You kill yourself.

Then what?  You have a family who is weeping, pretending, they don’t know what happened or why you would do it.  (Come on family, REALLY?!)

Now, add social media the mix!

This is what happens to many people around the world. *Especially,  in the black community. We are taught at an early age that you need to stop complaining and deal with it (whatever it is), or, “You need to just get over it!”

” You don’t have depression and anxiety!  Black people don’t have anxiety!”

” You have anxiety, huh? Go to bed!”

From a hurt child, to a hurting adult. When you hurt long enough, you begin to decide to find a way out.

See, we are so busy doing this thing called life to pay for our bills, spouse and putting on for The Book/The Gram, that we forget what is most important: our own selves

You can’t do anything if your mind, body, heart and spirit is toxic! When we are taught to sweep things under the rug, keep things on the hush, that behavior transitions to adulthood. Since we didn’t get the love, attention and help from our families, we look for a filler (Did I mention social media?).

I could go on and on about the behind the scenes factors that play a huge part of suicide in adults and adolescents. To some, suicide is an easy way out not a means to an end. It’s a mean to an end for the person who commits it, but not the ones you leave behind! Suicide is an extremely selfish act. For some people in certain situations, you leave your family behind to cry and weep for you. Some even commit suicide themselves.

I apologize for my generation and the generations before me, who didn’t set a proper and appropriate foundation for those who came after them  to feel loved, cherished, secure or cared for. Who didn’t teach you that you are worthy, valuable, adored and that you are enough.

There is more  help now then it was when I was growing up. There are suicide prevention lines, psychologists, text therapy app and  Google, to name a few.

If you feel like you can’t do life anymore, as if you would be better if weren’t on the planet anymore, please seek help! Don’t put your family though what I am going through right now. I am so happy that God spared my life so that I can be here to share my experience with you. Remember that you are not the only one in the world that are going through what you are going through.

Your situation may make you feel isolated, but this life is worth living. Reach out because even if family don’t reach back, someone will.

-Rebecca Quarles

The Ideal Firestarter Contributor

From the Admin:

Black children do have depression, deal with anxiety and experience trauma! And sad, hurting black children, become black adults whom have depression, anxiety and who nurture trauma. Therapy is not being white, or doing what white people do! You are worthy of this life and living all days givenJBH

When We Cry Aloud

There is a stigma that follows African-American youth that seems to not be associated with any other demographic of children. It would seem that we breed our children to embrace and be willing to trauma and traumatic happenings. However, I would be remised in my duties as a mother and writer not to speak about the children of color whom identify as members of the LGBTQ community.

I am a married cis-gendered heterosexual woman. I cannot know or fathom what is like to be a part of a family whom would remove the basic social need from me for coming out as gay, lesbian or trans.

This was taken from GLAAD (the article is dated from 2014:

This study also looked at LGBT youth in an important and innovative way: the researchers considered the significance of intersectionality, or having multiple minority identities that operate together. As opposed to following suit with past studies that have lumped LGBT youth of color into one category, this study analyzed the unique intersections of race, sex, and LGBT identity.

The study found that compared with white LGBT youth, Latino and Native American/Pacific Islander LGBT youth had greater odds of attempting suicide. In particular, Latina LGBT girls had a significantly higher prevalence of suicide attempts in the year prior to being surveyed than any other racial category. On a similar note, Latino LGBT boys reported twice the amount of feeling sad in the last year than boys of other racial categories. On the flip side, black and Asian American LGBT youth fared better on a number of outcomes.

In collecting this type of information, you have to understand how necessary it is. Humanity does not end because people love who they love, or do things you don’t like.

There is a cord this type of suicide strikes in me. Life is precious and I have no right to supervise God’s love in the face of other people. I cannot imagine what it would take or would mean for a parent to no longer live you because of who you choose to love. As a parent, I cannot imagine what pain my child could be in where they believe death is the only viable option.

I am of the mindset that one reason which children of color kill themselves in the LGBTQIA community is the weight of feeling unloved and just wrong. Feeling that the people whom are supposed to love them the most and longest, snatch that away—and that hole is left to consume them. I cannot imagine.

Life is a dirty, unclean and beautiful set of years. A gift. That gift is extended to all who are walking this blue globe. It shouldn’t be snatched away because one doesn’t feel accepted by a biological family. I’m of the mindset of the psalmist:

When my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up.

We are all wounded, beloveds. Sometimes those wounds are better hidden. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there, relevant or in need of treatment. Love is the most potent, cheapest cure I know.

Give it liberally. Some of those in this world may have a deeper well to fill.

When Kids Die

 

 

This work is not my own, but written by a Father Oracle, Langston Hughes (1902-1967). In keeping with the theme of this month, I thought this fitting. Let us be reminded that life is precious–and black children are entitled to know and see theirs are just as precious as anyone else’s.

Thank you.

JBH.

 When Kids Die

This is for the kids who die,

Black and white,

For kids will die certainly.

The old and rich will live on awhile,

As always,

Eating blood and gold,

Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi

Organizing sharecroppers

Kids will die in the streets of Chicago

Organizing workers

Kids will die in the orange groves of California

Telling others to get together

Whites and Filipinos,

Negroes and Mexicans,

All kinds of kids will die

Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment

And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned

Who pen editorials in the papers,

And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names

White and black,

Who make surveys and write books

Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,

And the sleazy courts,

And the bribe-reaching police,

And the blood-loving generals,

And the money-loving preachers

Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,

Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets

To frighten the people—

For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—

And the old and rich don’t want the people

To taste the iron of the kids who die,

Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,

To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—

Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you

Except in our hearts

Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp

Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,

Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht

But the day will come—

You are sure yourselves that it is coming—

When the marching feet of the masses

Will raise for you a living monument of love,

And joy, and laughter,

And black hands and white hands clasped as one,

And a song that reaches the sky—

The song of the life triumphant

Through the kids who die.

-Langston Hughes

 

[Google images]

When We All Watch

What is the most troubling trend of children killing themselves on social media, leaving the world with a roar. The most troubling was the case of a Miami teenager, Nakia Venant in January 2017. She was 14.

FOURTEEN.

From what is detailed is this story from last year, she was in care of her adoptive mother who was having problems with her, and the relationship was contentious. Sometimes fourteen-year-old girls are indeed contentious. After twelve, life seems to come at you fast and your body outpaces your mind and mouth at points. You test limits, boundaries and discover all that you can do (and get away with). Being a teenager is never a totally smooth thing.  Especially, if your home life is less than idyllic.

  1. According to the story, Nakia was taken from her biological mother because of accusations of physical abuse. She was even reported to have been in 14 foster homes in 16 months. There is deep sense I got when reading this story and reflecting on this, which makes me believe this child was unwanted or was made to feel unwanted.

There is a need inside of all of us to feel loved, acknowledged and significance. Sometimes this is the trifecta that is missing in the lives of black children. Her mother allegedly watched and commented on her Facebook live feed as she hung herself, according to The Daily Mail.

Her mother denies she did such a thing (the comments ascribed to her where venomous to the pointthere was mention she was pulling this as a stunt for attention), but the fact cannot be ignored Nakia killed herself in the bathroom of Nth foster home withno one seeming to give a damn is troubling.

Black children should not be stockholders in trauma. They should be cared for and believed. There is a sadness all too familiar to black children and families. So often we expect to be left out, abandoned and familiar with trauma. We need not be. The fact that perhaps her own mother couldn’t handle her anymore, she had no permanence or stability, no roots, could have made her believe she was unwanted.

No child should feel that!

Is parenting hard? Hell yes. Is it worth it? Hell yes. In stopping our children from these cycles of despair and suicidal ideation, is to listen and believe them. It’s not a white people thing to talk to your children, reason with them and set expectations. Nothing is wrong with that. Radical love makes a difference.

We as the surrounding village have to pay attention also to the children we interact with, and moreover whom our children interact with. Childhood is hard enough, but life shouldn’t end with the world watching you die because no one believed you wanted to be here anymore.

 

[images from Google]

WEEK 11: KATHY RAE

*Sharon Reed is not here for the bullshit.

When I saw this topic, as well as Ms. Reed’s eloquent response to this fragile pigeon last year, I laughed. Loudly. Women like Kathy Rae are the equivalent to the Regular Rachel’s all black women encounter. Consider this post a pro-tip on how to identity these Three Billy Goats Gruff heffas, and how to neutralize them.

Women like Kathy Rae will swear up down and center that they are not racist. They may have donated to a jail fund, have a token gay friend, have a trendy activist shirt, and know at least three people of a minority status. She doesn’t consider her life homogenous and uber-white, she considers herself a contentious liberal.

TAKE NOTE.

However, what you cannot do to Miss Ann/Kathy Rae and her ilk is call her on their bullshit. What you cannot do, to break up her share in the world, and all her faith in the god of #45 and Fox News is to tell her about her skewed beliefs and tell her racism exists and is propped up by white supremacy and privilege. You cannot tell Kathy Rae/Regular Rachel that because she believes in the supreme power of her own whiteness–and don’t you dare tell her the Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is not the white man on her collective plates with light hair, light eyes and straight blonde hair.

Women like this move through the world and this society at large like the common cold. Everyone knows a Kathy Rae. EVERYONE. Don’t debate me on this, fam–I’m trying to help you.

Here is how you find out if your white friend/ally is a Regular Rachel/Kathy Rae.

1.) Kathy Rae watches FOX NEWS. At this point, Fox News is the equivalent of state propaganda found in pre-WWII Berlin or Russian State TV. You cannot reason with people who do not believe what their own eyes are telling them. Fox News only exists as a sexual harassment mill meant to prop up the aging, scared Republicans who fear change and people who are not white. That’s it.

That’s all.

They exist to be eye candy to men old enough to be the fathers of some of these women on shows like Fox & Friends! There are no facts presented save for maybe two ACTUAL journalists:  one of them is Shep Smith. Their job is to assuage the ego of white America–no more, no less. This way the ratio of white ignorance/political embezzlement  (ie GOP contributions) keep at the clip they are. Find the lie.

2.) Talk about these three topics:  systemic racism, black lives matter, economic disparity. Kathy Rae believes as long as black women and men Mammie and Buck respectively, nothing bad should ever happen. Anything contrary to what Tucker Carlson says must be a lie! She does not, will not examine her social status and the inherent privilege granted to her. She believes America is an equal playing field because, “None of my family have experienced this.” She does not do self-reflection, historical research or value the experiences of those whom are not white.

3.) You can see she has a ‘token’ friend and references them in conversation. In matters of race and its effects, Kathy Rae will resort to microaggressions. She will tell you of her gay friend, or her one black friend so she simply cannot be racist! When you confront the topics of race and class with her, she will call you one of the worse things she has been taught to call someone who is black, or brown. She wields that as her family crest and shield. Kathy Rae will not suffer to confront her own racism–she will always project to the other. In doing so, she believes she has won the day or and the conversation will end. It hasn’t. It won’t.

4.) She will not admit white privilege exists. In the world according to Kathy Rae/Regular Rachel, we are all equal unless you do better than a white woman she knows, and you happen not to be white. She will not admit privilege or what it does in the lives of people whom lack it, neither will she cop to the fact she uses it on a day to day basis. Don’t hold your breath for it, fam. She can’t be reasoned with because she is scared you may just be right. She fears the loss of status and control being white and in America has given her.

Guess what? Confront her on it anyway!

This type of nonsense continues because there are too many people willing to condone and benefit off its innocuous nature. Until you are willing to confront these dames where they are, they will continue to believe nothing is wrong and we are the ones with the issue! As long as Kathy Rae/Regular Rachel is someone else’s friend or family, it doesn’t affect them. But it does. You are an accomplice to bullshit. Congrats!

And if that doesn’t bother you, and you say you’re an ally, that’s a bigger problem.

#TrustButVerify

*-This story was reported by The Washington Post on December 7, 2017. The CBS Atlanta affiliate anchorwoman, Sharon Reed (formerly from the CBS affiliate in St. Louis), answered this trollop’s comment about Ms. Reed talking about race and its far-reaching effects on air. Kathy Rae didn’t like that. Ms. Sharon Reed didn’t give a damn.

 

[images from Google]

RUNITBACK FRIDAY-4/13/18

img_0573-4

No dramatic intro. No sugar, no sweet. No chaser. Wakanda forever and let your edges slay like your presence. Let’s get it.

#SabrinaClaudio #Colorism #SheTriedIt #TwitterAlwaysTellsIt #SheTripped #TakeHerWithYouWhenYouLeave #BlackWomenAreBeautiful #LatinaWomenAreBeautiful

So the whole innanet just found out that Sabrina Claudio had a whole secret Twitter account where she dogged black women and some dark-skinned Latina women. Really?! And she issued this tiredass apology! Nall fam! She only apologized because she got caught and her albums are streamed through Apple Music and Spotify! She apologized because this country majors amnesia after the apology is given! When I heard this story, I deleted her from my steaming account. I cannot listen to someone, pay my money for a service, and the broad is trash when it comes to women that look like me. Y’all can have that, fam! I can’t….

#TristianThompsonAThot #KhloeAFool #TellOnMe #ICantWithTheseImposterMen #LifeIsMoreThanPenisAntics #BabyDaddyIsNotAJobDescription

I’m convinced that cheating is a pandemic. It really, really is! This dude on a WHOLE CAMERA, with two WHOLE OTHER WOMEN, with a WHOLE PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND who is due any day now.

Bruh. You ain’t shit.

I remember how mad I was when I was trying to figure out why Khloe and Lamar broke up and divorced and look what he doin now. It’s sad. As a woman, I can’t even have significant compassion for her, and here is why. You expected more out of him than he presented! Even his father said he ain’t shit! Like?! I some point you have to hold yourself accountable when you get in crazy ass situations–you really do!

Hell yes he was wrong for doing this to her! I’m not making excuses for this! What I am saying is the same thing my father told my aunt when she was dating a nuthin-ass man, “Well, now you know what you got.”

And as far as Tristian? Dude, STOP MAKING BABIES WITH EVERY BROAD YOU THINK OS FINE! Just STOP. Don’t be that black dude, mane! Don’t do it. Being a rich man and young is fleeting—children are an investment. They require stuff. They need all of you and then some. Your manhood isn’t prove by how hard you get and how many chicks you can rack up or make holler. Do better, mane (the FUCK?!)!

Now y’all know I don’t do celebrity gossip, I’m here to make you think. This week, the moral of the story is: Trust, but verify. If you can master that, you gon stay winnin’.

 

 

Our Brother, Kalief Browder

Image result for kalief browder

If you have not already, I urge you to watch TIME:  The Kalief Browder Story, available in NETFLIX. It is worth you time, effort and energy to watch what happens with young black men in the prison industrial complex encounter, as well as it’s long lasting, far reaching  effects.

Kalief Browder was incarcerated  for 3 years without trial, advocate, or bail on Riker’s Island. He was accused of stealing a backpack with all its contents including money ($700), a camera, credit card and an iPod Touch at age 16 (which he denied). In those three years, he was treated worse than an animal, his mother’s health failed, and he spent  more time in solitary confinement than is recommended or could be tolerated (2 years).  Upon his release at age 19, he was arrested again with his brother over a minor infraction (read:  racial profiling),  and in 2013 began a continuation of suicide attempts which began while in Rikers. Hear Kalief’s own words:

“People tell me because I have this case against the city I’m all right. But I’m not all right. I’m messed up. I know that I might see some money from this case, but that’s not going to help me mentally. I’m mentally scarred right now. That’s how I feel. Because there are certain things that changed about me and they might not go back.” He also said, “Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid. I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”[26]

-Kalief Browder, Time:  The Kalief Browder Story

What we must understand as we delve into this realm of mental health as it relates to black children and suicide is the effect of early interaction with the prison industrial complex. It is not often considered that black children have depression, are susceptible to this condition when there are none or not adequate resources. In the case of Kalief, it can be seen in hindsight, just how much he was suffering –and also how the world outside of Brooklyn still seemed not to care.

One of the most troubling things, aside from the fact Kalief’s father had the bail money to get him out of Rikers, and for his own logic would not help is son, is what he told his mother:

“Ma, I can’t take it anymore.”

 

In these six words, Kalief has and have given voice to what most black children cannot dream to utter for fear of seeming weak or soft. The time Kalief spent away from his mother, his family and all he knew, he was in a state where no one could reach him, free him or help him. From that new soil, grew loneliness, anxiety, despair and hopelessness. How could the fruit not be suicide or suicidal ideation?

In the life of Kalief Browder, and the lessons we rummage through, we cannot ignore the environment which this was allowed to flourish. Poverty, lack of resources (money and employment), racism and its profiling, undiagnosed mental illness played part in allowing Kalief to think there was no hope in the better for his life. When he thought he would be better, get better, feel better–those same ghosts arose and found him out. Unable to cope, he did what he had tried to do in 2012. And was successful…

In his death, we see more of what he endured. We see the need of mental health services in the life of those young, and old, who are found in the clutches of the prison industrial complex! We see what happens when we ignore what we believe is common and well with children of color:  trauma.

Trauma untreated are emotional and social cancers. They can only be such. Black children should not be made martyrs of trauma and their sole keepers. Their tears are valuable, their situations must be understood, and there words must be unfettered. They must be allowed to heal and be heard.

In being heard, we can translate their fury and rage and sorrow to action and compassion. We must be able to listen, and hear to understand. We must take the cries silent tears as lion roars–unmistakable and important. Our children depend on our ears. We cannot afford to keep failing them.

 

[images from Google]