My teenage boy is speechless. He whines and howls and cries. Is he in pain? Is he soiled? Is he hungry? Bored, anxious, sad, confused, lonely, frustrated? Does he feel as if he's been treated unjustly? He must want so terribly to be heard, to be understood, perhaps even to be freed from his reality. He goes most crazy—fever pitch—just before a seizure hits, his brain attacked, his body racked with spasms. His protests are righteous, his message, deafening, just trying to get our help and attention.

Other voices are far more articulate in expressing their dissent of unarmed, shot or suffocated bodies left to languish alone in the streets, in cars, parks, subways and apartments. Their only offense: having black skin. 

Rodney King. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. Freddie Gray. Aiyana Jones. Laquan McDonald. Alton Sterling. Michael Brown. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Walter Scott. Renisha McBride. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.

Countless other priceless souls are stolen by White cops and vigilantes with tasers, guns and chokeholds. Knees pressed on necks. Bullets in backs of heads and chests, close range or while retreating. Only cell phones in their grip. Asleep in their beds. Driving to work. Playing in parks. Out for a jog. Asking for help. Watching television on the couch. 

The anger over their hurt and murder is mounting. Peaceful protestors choke the streets. Some take a knee. Others sit cross-legged, arms raised. Braids of Black and Brown and White bodies hold signs and cry out the names of those whose lives were stolen, echoing the phrases:

Hands up, don't shoot! Enough is enough! No justice, no peace! I can't breathe!

Decades have passed. Nothing changes. Another gruesome video inevitably emerges. Tensions and anger heighten. Black and Brown bodies are disproportionately lost in other ways because of systemic racism—cornonavirus, weathering, hypertension, diabetes, mass incarceration. When will justice be served?

MLK said a riot is the language of the unheard. Yet these are not riots. Rather, rebellions, uprisings, unrest. Demonstrators are not the enemy. Looting is not worse than being an innocent victim of a shooting. Cities strangled by unrest can recover; bodies strangled by cops cannot. These homicides are not anomalies. A barrel of bad apples can taint legions. Too many are rotten. Those seeds meant for breeding have cyanide, you know. Enough to go on killing innocents. Enough poison to spoil generations of Black families. Enough to deep-six the dreams of tomorrow's fathers, mothers, wives, sons, daughters.

White privilege exists. Well-off or poor, it has helped most get where they've gotten without getting racially profiled, 
unjustly stopped and frisked, pulled-over, harassed, stalked, suspected, questioned, arrested, trodden. I promise. I should know.

To protest systemic oppression is righteous. In plain sight, our Black brethren are being neglected, abused, maimed, scapegoated, murdered. And though our collective cries of injustice have been deafening, it's as if they're still unheard.

Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

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