"How do I know this is a gunshot?" (a poem for you)

I am panicked and heartsick.

Trayvon Martin. Dontre Hamilton. Eric Garner. John Crawford III. Michael Brown. Ezell Ford. Dante Parker. Tanisha Anderson. Akai Gurley. Tamir Rice. Rumain Brisbon. Jerame Reid. Tony Robinson. Phillip White. Eric Harris. Walter Scott. Freddie Gray.

And now, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.

I feel as if all of the rage and shock and sorrow has been wrung out of me. But every time I hear about another black boy shot in America, I am yet again proven wrong.

I am furious, yes. I am shocked and sorrowful. But mostly, I am... weary.

I am not part of the African-American community. Though I am oppressed in different ways, I will never feel the deep, hopeless grief that only black people could possibly feel: down in their core, in their bones, the way one mourns family.

And so I share a piece with you that I wrote the day I found out about the shootings of Castile and Sterling—not to step in front of black outcry, nor to silence the voices that so desperately need to be heard, but to stand in solidarity. I am not part of your family, but I am your friend. I have no gift to give except for my words, and I hope that they are enough.

If you would like to contribute to ending these horrific acts of violence, a few sources:

Here is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter. Educate yourself. Educate yourself. Educate yourself. Join Campaign Zero. American citizens: find your senator. Find your representative. Write letters. Speak out. If you see violence, film it. Take photographs. Get proof. Document it—but know your rights. Related: what to say if the police ask you to stop filming. Tweet about #BlackLivesMatter. Americans, join local protests and rallies in your city. Donate to the families of Castile and Sterling.

(If you have any other resources, please leave them in the comments so that I may add them to the list.)

Here is a poem.

It is not much, but it is all I have.

I stand with the black community. And I am here, always, if any of you need a shoulder to cry on.



I am standing in the house. I am looking around
the house. The house is warm & it pulses
in time with watching.

Today it is day three of the American dream.

Today another boy slept, & I buried him
outside the house with the other ones.

I am inside the house. It says: you are safe here.
But wait. This is not a true thing. It is a false

(No, the house says. It is a true thing.
The house is warm. Why does it keep lying to me?)

I do not think I have ever been outside this house.
Maybe I have, but the house is telling me that
I belong here, so this must be true.

Outside, I can hear a sharp secret, like a gunshot.

(How do I know this is a gunshot? The house,
which is warm, says I should not think about it
any longer.)

All of the clothes in my closet are black.

I want to go outside of the house, but the night is black,
too, & the house does not like the colour black.

I am inside the house. Today
it is day four of the American dream.

Outside, a large animal