American Tales

The Recipe for George Floyd

It started out at first seeming like I was grieving for George Floyd, a few tears fell from my eyes, my soul was all too familiar with the chants and the emptiness of another black life snuffed out long before it seemed it should have been. I had phone calls from friends and family that I listened to . . . “Yes, I said I understand I said like clockwork, like I am used to . . . I listened to their tears and their sorrow and I felt their pain. The pain from experiencing their white counterparts, close counterparts, counterparts they had long called family who could not relate. Not only could they not relate they could not even acknowledge the pain of their fellow brethren who was filled with grief. Be it that they didn’t know how, were not interested or because they were white, and it doesn’t have to be something they have to consider.

He was four years older than me, just four. There was no difference between he and I. and I was so bound by the normalizing of black trauma that it didn’t occur to me that when the tears that were few started to run like a river that those tears were for more than just George Floyd and his family. They were for the years of unrest, for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Sean bell to just name a few but they were for me. I realized that like us all we have normalized what it is like to be black in this country. The only difference between George Floyd and  a lot of us is that we are still breathing and he is not but we have been beaten, we have been detained unlawfully, we have had knees on our necks and our backs we have been racially profiled. I cried for the years that I have become accustomed to it, that I had not realized just how numb I was to it. And the death of George Floyd changed that for me . . . This man should be able to go home to his family but he can’t . . . he should’ve been given every opportunity that anyone else born the same year the same day and the same time but in a different zip code and within a different skin type. But we are not extended those benefits. We are told that if it tastes sour that it is simply something wrong with how we taste, if it is a lemon make lemonade minus the ingredients to do so. And we have done so for years and years, we have done so even though systemic racism has always dictated the quality of our lemons, the ration of our sugar and the pitcher we mix it in. But the day George Floyd couldn’t breathe he gave his breath to a movement, a movement that said no longer will you dictate to us where we mix, who we mix for and if we choose to mix at all. We are not interested in your lemons, your brand of Kool aid or the quality or quantity of your sugar.

George Floyd gave us a new thirst, George Floyd and his family reminded Black people about every ingredient we have we have been born with. The dignity of our homegoing services, the resilience of our strength even in the time of sorrow. They gave us the recipe back that sometimes this world tries to make us forget we ever had. We are black and we are beautiful, and we are golden, and we RISE. Even in death, in despair whenever it seems like there is no way our recipe for family, our ingredients for black excellence no matter the socio-economic status is always there. George lived like many black men do, with integrity, with dignity, with his head held high . . . and in his death he reminded us to do the same. We don’t thirst for lemons, we thirst for greatness, we thirst for restoration, we thirst for justice, we thirst for change, we thirst for power, we thirst for love, we thirst for knowledge . . . and the thirst we have now America you can’t mix in  a pitcher, you can’t add sugar to sweeten to cover the taste of bitterness, the thirst we have America we won’t be using your recipe or your ingredients to creative our Kings and Queens and our ancestors who fought for freedom from the gold mines to the field to the bus to the voters box gave us everything we need in the exact measurement we require.

America, we thirst and George and Pamela, and Ahmaud, and Eric, and Botham and the millions of others you have kept your knee on have given us their breath. You could not keep them from breathing you simply gave us stronger lungs.