The Question Your Soul Answers

The deceptions — personal, shared, and systemic — our country depends on in order to continue abusing us without accountability are being exposed.

Over the weekend, I wrote an essay for GQ about black grief and state violence:

The past beat us bloody, the present is beating us black and blue then blaming us for the bruises, and the future will either thank us for finally breaking the cycle of trauma or bury even the most basic facts about what happened in unmarked graves. Given that I’ve watched police beat bystanders with batons and shove elderly men to the ground so hard they start bleeding — then minutes later lie about it —it feels like the future is already lying about the past.

You can read my essay in full here. And, if you are moved by it and have the means, I hope you will consider making a donation to the Columbus Freedom Fund (if you’d like to support the cause where I live) or the National Bail Fund Network.

A personal refrain of mine lately has been that we are living in a clarifying time. The deceptions — personal, shared, and systemic — our country depends on in order to continue abusing us without accountability are being exposed. And I believe that how each of us responds to these revelations will rightfully set the course for the rest of our lives.

To be blunt, what you are doing now is who you are. It’s as true for you and your neighbors, as it is for politicians and police chiefs. “My memory stammers,” James Baldwin wrote, “but my soul is a witness.”

Let’s take this moment as an opportunity to translate our feelings into actions that protect and cultivate black futures. What moral action looks like is a question only your soul can answer and witness. For many of us, the task at hand is to stay black and live. For others, it’s time to bankrupt your privilege in acknowledgment of your thieved inheritance. Sure, do whatever you need to do in order to sleep at night, but also — consider who you want to be when the morning light finds you.