A Matter of Black Lives

I came across a tweet the other day from journalist and activist, Ferrari Sheppard, who lamented the blacklivesmatter hashtag:

Ferrari Sheppard tweet

 

It is sad. It’s devastating to think about the context in which a statement like, ‘Black Lives Matter’ has to be repeated over and over.  It is sad that these three simple words seem to be charged with the immense task of piercing the consuming darkness that prevents the world from seeing the beauty that is Black.  It seems unreasonable that we’d place the heaviness of our broken hearts on the backs on these 16 letters from the English alphabet.

 

B-L-A-C-K-L-I-V-E-S-M-A-T-T-E-R.

 

It feels unfair to expect these four syllables to compete with the multisyllabic labels used to define, denigrate and disenfranchise black people all over the world.

 black lives mat-ter

It feels naive to think that even if reduced to dots and dashes, its truth would be transmitted across oceans.

 -… .-.. .- -.-. -.- / .-.. .. …- . … / — .- – – . .-.

 

The only thing that’s not far-reaching to me. The only thing that makes sense is that black lives matter becomes a meditation, a mantra…a prayer.

Something we whisper to each other on busses and trains.

black lives matter.

Something we chant with our teammates in huddles and time-outs.

black lives matter.

Something we shout at surprise birthday parties, graduations and baby showers.

black lives matter.

Something we trace on the backs of lovers after making love.

black lives matter.

Something we text to an ex after breaking up.

black lives matter.

Something we scribble on intake forms where we’re asked to check the box labeled “Black”.

black lives matter.

Something we repeat to our children when they misbehave.

black lives matter.

Something we etch into monuments and gravestones not as a reminder or an “appeal”, but as an epitaph – a holy inscription corroborating the immutable fact that we were here: black.

Below is a gallery of shots taken at the solidarity action that took place today in Toronto. Shout out to the Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterTO) for their organization and leadership.