We Speak of Ghosts

If a man has the constant feeling that everyone in the world is trying to kill him then he is probably a paranoid schizophrenic, however, if that man is black then he is merely a realist. A few months ago a childhood friend of mine was shot and killed at 5:00am at a traffic light. He just finished working a double shift at his job and was headed home and someone killed him. As far as facts are concerned that’s the end of the story. People on the streets say there was some kind of verbal altercation or that somehow jealousy was involved but it doesn’t matter. None of the gossip concerns me, what keeps me up at night is that Ronnie Kidd is dead.

“The Kidd” “Kidder” the dude who cried every week when we were playing Peewee Football because the coaches wouldn’t let him play defense is gone. The guy with the jokes, the style, and the always-positive outlook on life was killed over something that no man should ever die over.  He had a wife, three boys, and friends everywhere. He wasn’t a dope-boy or a thug of any of any kind but yet and still he was gunned down as if his life meant nothing. And of the person who did it; one can assume that he went on about his business. He ate a good breakfast and kissed his woman on the lips.  But a fact even more troubling is that we can definitely assume that his killer was another black man.

I rarely sleep well. I see memories of Ronnie Kidd, I recount deep conversations with Kevin Reese, and I recall cheering for Damion Bouchellion as a JV football player while he led our varsity squad to an undefeated season. I hear Sean Scott’s voice so clearly some nights that I forget that he’s dead. Perhaps I have mental illness or perhaps I have finally become aware that it is perfectly normal for a 30-year-old black man from East Oakland to be far better acquainted with the dead than with the living. I’m not a ghost whisperer and I don’t claim to have super natural abilities but I do talk to spirits. Sometimes they talk back to me and sometimes they don’t. I see them in visions. Sometimes I see them in the form of mischievous boys, sometimes I see them as responsible men, and sometimes I see them lying in pools of blood on the concrete.

I don’t want to be killed. On average I’m sure I think about death a lot more than most educated men.  Sometimes it’s hard to leave the bed and sometimes it’s hard to come home. I know that if I were to accrue the resources necessary to lay on a psychiatrists couch then I would be diagnosed with a lot of afflictions and given a lot of pills but no western medicine or drugs can cure me of my mental blackness. Black men are the most hated species on Earth. Hated so much in fact that we actually hate one another to death.

Over the years I’ve learned that crazy is a relative term and although race is only a social construct it’s confinement is very real. Even if I escaped today my soul would still be in the trap.  I miss my friend’s so much but it’s rare that I drink enough to cry about it.

-YB

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