I had a dream.
Or rather, I had a nightmare. A horror film unfolded in my subconscious, to be more exact. And the scariest thing about it is how much it reflected a foreseeable reality.
The dream was visual of course, but the most memorable thing was the feelings, the emotions, the sense of powerlessness. I am no prophet. And in no way am I claiming that this is some post-apocalyptic truth. What I am saying, though, is the issues that are being spotlighted recently in the media are haunting and they should be haunting no matter what race you are.
There was an idea. A wonderful idea to enable youth and even adults to express themselves in live art through poetry, improv, music, etc. It was a non-profit geared towards catharsis, towards release, towards letting go and simply being. The organization grew and apparently incorporated activism as well. The organization was holding an event full of live art and laughter and there was a noise complaint which inevitably brought a knock at the door from a police department. It is here that the details become a little murky and the dream transitions into a reflection of our reality.
At the time of this knock on the door of the vicinity, so many people from varying backgrounds, races, and cultures were partaking in the communion of expression. There were men, women, kids, who were Asian, Latin, Black, White, and everything in between. A general camaraderie was in the air until that knock.
A noise complaint suddenly turned a good natured event into a sort of concentration camp as police officers took over and the threat of them was not in their weapons. The threat lay in the “authority” they possessed. The tyranny of lawlessness without penalty. The officers wore it like a badge. They knew they held the power to harm without consequence from the law and we knew it. The Asians knew it. The Blacks knew it. The Whites knew it. The Latins knew it. We all knew it.
We were detained and herded into sitting corners awaiting orders. Not to be confused with requests. There was no respect. Only power and fear. We were sitting there wondering what the hell we were doing that was so unlawful that we had to be treated like the lowest of criminals all from a peaceful gathering. Not a protest, but a gathering of individuals who, despite superficial and economical differences, were thoroughly enjoying each other.
Along with the cops, there were those affiliated with them who held no badges. They took a lady friend to the side without telling anyone why. She was simply taken. She was White. We were wary but too frightened to speak because by this time the violence that was only a breath previously was more of a dry typhoon. To spare too many details, that friend was taken and sexually assaulted by an affiliate of the law. Then she was returned and no officers batted their eyes.
I had had enough. The screams that were heard during the assault overcame the fear of the policemen. I went to one of them to file a report and was told, “You should leave the law in the hands of the law officers. You should leave the investigation of crime to us.” The comment was more than derisive because that officer was definitely aware of what had transpired and his gun was all but flaunted for intimidation tactics.
The dream fades as they tend to do and all of us are suddenly marching peacefully. The ever watchful eyes of the law with their guns keeping the tension ever so thick. People of ALL races, varying ages and cultures, marched in peaceful protest. Then we ran. We ran for freedom because we were apparently detained for God knows how long. We ran as if our lives depended on it. We bum-rushed the awaiting fields as the first bullets were fired. As Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latins, women, men, children, and so on were shot in the back by the law. And still we ran. The dream ended and I awakened deeply troubled.
I know this was merely a dream. Merely a culmination of the articles and breaking news stories about the lives lost in police custody. The Black lives. But in this dream, all lives were threatened. The police did not distinguish between sex or race or religion. They were the authority. They were the final say and any question towards them was seen as intended violence but none was ever offered. Even as one of our own was raped in that dream. Even though we were simply dancing and singing and reciting poetry for our own edification.
What does this mean? The hell if I know. It was haunting. It was something that made it hard for me to fall back asleep. The implications speak for themselves but just to clarify for anyone who may miss them: once the police eradicate Black Americans through systematic genocide using the guise of the law…who will they target next? How long will it be before law enforcement gains enough power to not only eradicate the Black lives that matter but the lives of the “all”? How long before its them versus us, the civilians? If they can be above the law when it comes to Black men and women in their custody from something as simple as a routine traffic stop, when will that same power be used against those of other races on a mass scale? Then, what? Or rather, then who?
Rakeem ‘OneVoice’ Person
BA in Religious Studies
Minor in English