Names and Numbers

Subtitle: A 2020 Mid-Year, Late-(To-Date)-in-Mine-Life Reckoning

February 23, Ahmaud Arbery, 25

March 13, Breonna Taylor, 26

May 25, George Floyd, 46

Yesterday, 6/8,
I and my bride, with friends dear,
celebrating my birthday of 68 years,
after an evening of comforting conviviality,
arrived home safely.

The difference?
Any difference?

Yes, I did not through a neighborhood jog
where others believed I should not be.
Yet that, in and of itself,
or so it seems to me,
was no reason to shoot to kill.

And, yes, for my night’s rest, I lay my head upon my bed.
Though in my neighborhood, by all appearances
(which can deceive given what can transpire behind walls)
‘twas not likely law enforcement,
acting on a no-knock order
(now, deemed out-of-order),
would break down my door.
Yet, even so, that, in and of itself,
or so it seems to me,
proved no reason to shoot to kill.

And, yes, I did not allegedly make a purchase
proffering a counterfeit bill.
Yet that, in and of itself,
or so it seems to me,
was no reason for the forfeit of a life
and in the most breathtaking way.

Yes, there were…are differences.

Yet I can say, no, there were…are not
or, perhaps,
no, I don’t think (I no longer believe) so.

For I identify with DBBB, death by being black.

For as I reflect on my years on earth,
countless have been the times
when I could have come –
when I could have been brought – to my end
for having been in the wrong (or even the right) place
and at the wrong (or even the right) time
and no amount of supposed respectability for sake of
familial tutelage or
spiritual training or
social assimilation or
educational achievement or
community standing or
fair-skinned Afro-appeal or
any other blessed

(there’s another word I might…could use here;
but, for sake of your reception and reflection,
“blessed” shall serve)

attribute for sake of which my life might have been saved.

And, I wonder: Suppose it had happened?
Suppose I had taken my final breath in death by being black,
what would have been the outcome?

Would family and friends weep and wonder why?
Yes, I believe so.

And would onlookers, talking heads, wondering, wandering,
search my history so to find, so to say:
“Oh, we see that he did this or that and that explains it!”
Yes, or so, given their past and present practice, I believe.

And would the powers-that-be,
seeing DBBB happens oft enough,
about their systems and institutions, ever wonder: “Is it me?”
I do not know, so, I wonder.

© 2020 PRA

2 thoughts on “Names and Numbers

  1. I think about this ….. ALL THE TIME.

    Where I’m going…. who will be there…. is it safe for me to try to get home by myself…. what’s my escape route if something erupts…who will vouch for my character if law enforcement becomes involved…..

    It’s seems crazy that we have to consider these things when we even go out for a night of fun!! But if we don’t we could we’ll end up DBBB.

    Glad you had fun on your bday and got home safely!

    Much love!


  2. Loretta, one word. Yes. Another word. Amen. And to quote you, I, too, “Think about this…ALL THE TIME.

    So, now, in addition to my word to you – Carry on! – I say/write – Be careful!

    Love you


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