In the beginning, there were tears. They came like thieves in the night and just as thick. It is raining, but I expected the sun rays to force me to gather my insecurities and start my day. My heart was still enslaved. I tried to rise from my drowning state—the pressure of being surrounded by water, no space, or air to breathe. I could not rise. I was awake, drowning, with fresh tears in my eyes. I knew it was morning; however, it was dark. I was afraid. I stopped wrestling with the sheets. I laid motionless, frozen. Letting the tears roll.

Eleven voices to one. A phone call from a young man in love. With a woman murdered, before we account for race. Can we address the tragedy? Too many times, we wait to justify the reason for death. When death should always be a tragedy. We forgive celebrities quicker than we forgive normal people. Does Tory Lanez deserve to die like Deon Kay?

Do we have more sympathy for Chadwick Boseman than Daniel Prude? What makes a Black life worth fighting for? How much does a Black man have to do to prove he is worthy of this world?

With Breonna Taylor, my heart hurts more because her boyfriend is being blamed for the death. Will we always look to demonize Black men, or are we simply awaiting their death? These questions leave me and so many others torn with emotions. What does it really take for a Black life to matter?

As I listen to the phone call Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend made, I couldn’t help but cry as I read on another screen the demonization of his life. How someone he was planning to marry was shot, and somehow he was to blame. Just as one Supreme Court Justice can ultimately decide the future of a woman’s body, one voice can decide a Black man’s life. We have become a country comfortable with tears, as long as they are not our own.

Botham Jean murdered while he ate ice cream, Ahmaud Aubrey murdered on a routine jog. The Deon Kay case really hits even harder. It seems like America was waiting to say, “see all of you are all the same.” We do not deserve to live.

With Breonna Taylor’s verdict announced, the day before his funeral, my heart is overwhelmed.  The unpleasant truths are starting to sink in, with the same force of a bullet to the chest. A Black man’s life is what the media tells you its worth. We can only be a viral sensation, either by entertainment or death. While we protest and come together, the anger and rage will be shown. It will be vilified and used against us. As if there was never a reason for anger.

The police prepare for a riot, the community is focused on healing, but we will never get the chance. Amid pandemic, social unrest, and the fight for Black lives, the pain of one of their own is being dismissed. The idea that he deserved it is more than troubling. It shows where we are as a country. We can watch a young Black man be shot in the chest and feel nothing.

Another Black man can have the woman he loves murdered, and be blamed for her death.

In the beginning, there were tears. They came like thieves in the night and just as thick. I didn’t rise this morning. I was drenched. This was every morning. I wake up from drowning, drowning in my tears. There have always been tears. I gasp for air, releasing myself of shackles. The sheets loosen me, but my heart is still enslaved. Still, at a resting beat, I yearn for more, my heart knows better. There is nothing more for me when I leave this bed.

It seems like they only want to see us casket dreaming. Not living, no liberty, no pursuit of happiness. We can only dream when and where they tell us.

I challenge everyone to look past the appearance of our young Black men and start listening. If we do not show up and listen, we are no better than the police that shoots them dead. Black men being killed should not be entertaining. It should not be a viral sensation that makes us miss the real point.

As we look at the recent murders by police across the country, we must stop and say when is murder ok? 781 people have been killed by police this year. We can try to pick apart case by case, but the troubling part is we are debating who deserves to live and die. Deon Kay should be alive, as well as 780 others and many more.

We have to remember a mother is mourning. A father has lost his son. Friends will no longer see his smile. His dreams must not be kept in a casket. We must continue to fight for his, and all the rest of our young Black men. This also applies to our Black women as well. We must see each other for where we are and build. If we continue to look at each other and destroy, all our dreams will be in a casket.