An Open Letter to My Brothers

black women

Keisha, Alexandria and Natasha

Dear Black Men,

Donald Trump created an entire fake University just to rip people off and he’s one of two people in America that are vying to become our President. A white college male in California raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and is basically getting 3 months. As I’m tying this a black man is probably getting sentenced to years over weed when it’s legal in several states and most cities don’t even arrest you for small amounts anymore. These are all facts and these are all things that need to be addressed. I am not addressing them in this letter. In this letter I want to talk about the three woman that were murdered this week by men that look like you and I. Not because of gang violence, not because of police but because of domestic violence and this idea that, “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

Earlier this week I talked about how there has never been a race of women that existed that love black men more than black women. They will literally sacrifice their last for us, our mothers, our sisters, our aunts but more than anything; the women that love us in a romantic way. When a woman loves you, it’s with her entire being. She feels your pain and love in her soul and what’s hers is yours. The thing is though, if you don’t appreciate it, you’ll lose it and once you lose it, you have to her go.

Someone is going to read this and think that I’m saying all black men are woman beaters or all black men look the other way when it comes to domestic violence. Someone will read this and say, “What about white men?” “What about police?” Let me be clear. I speak to black men when it comes to protecting black women because no one else will. This week, three black women were shot and killed by men that should have been protecting them whether they were together or not. If a woman is the mother of your children, you should always want to make sure she’s good. We are spending too much time and energy fighting each other when we need to be looking out for each other.

If my friend or my brother or a co-worker tell me they are having problems at home or problems getting over a breakup. It’s my job as a man to talk to them, to see where their head is at. It’s my job and responsibility to let them know, “Bro, let shorty go, it’s going to be alright. You weren’t good to her when you had her and now that she’s finally happy you want to terrorize her even more?”

Black women used to give themselves to slave owners just so black men wouldn’t get beat or sold. When black men were getting lynched and locked up in the 50’s and 60’s, black women bailed us out and picked up the picket signs. When drugs hit the community and entire neighborhoods and cities lost black men to prison; our women held our sons and daughters together. Even now, with every other rap lyric and social media debate attacking black women, they’ve never let our side. So it’s up to us as men to stop looking the other way when we see domestic violence. When we see our brother, our friend, is about to lose it. We can’t laugh it off or belittle him. We have to make him understand, let her go.

I get sick to my stomach having to prove I’m not a criminal every time I get pulled over. Having to prove I’m qualified every time I work on a new project at work. Having to wait just a tad bit longer for my meal at a nice restaurant because, “He’s probably not going to tip well.” But what really kills me is watching little black boys and girls be raised without a mother. We have to fight the world everyday, we can’t fight each other.

I’m aware all three of these women weren’t murdered by ex’s in their lives. But they are still black women that were taken too soon. Domestic violence and domestic terrorism are the same to me. 

It’s All Love,

Demez

Changing My Brothers Fate

20140703-065049.jpg“Where is he?” It had been at least two years since I’d seen him. Maybe longer than that. There were about ten or twelve people in the room and I didn’t recognize any of them but his wife. She stood out from the rest of them, her posture and mannerisms were the first thing that gave her away. Even though she didn’t come from where we came from she still played the part. Asking them if they wanted anything to drink or fixing plates. A part of me knew it was all just to keep herself busy.

Rubbing her shoulder, trying to meet her eyes, I asked her again. “Where is he?”

“Why are you worried now? He blames himself you know. He still talks about you like you’re his bestfriend. I didn’t know bestfriends gave up on each other.” She needed someone to take her frustrations out on. I knew she missed me, they both missed me but I did what I knew was best. At least that’s what I thought, until looking in her eyes.

The woodwork in the kitchen was beautiful, hand crafted. The entire living room was glass on three sides. The last time I was here they’d just started construction and now it was everything she designed.

“Where is he?”

She slammed the glass down on the counter making a few of the men in the room look our way, the look she gave them let them know this wasn’t their fight.

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“One picture. He only keeps one picture in the garage. It’s not of his mother or his brother. It’s not of our children! Who I’m afraid to have around right now because some fool might come shooting! The only picture he has in his beloved garage is of us. You, me and him. It’s not just him you gave up on Alek! You gave up on me, on your godchildren. He’s in the garage. He wanted to be alone but his people aren’t going to leave him. They have their faults but their loyal.”

I know she needed to talk, needed to vent but today wasn’t about her.

They all grilled me as I walked across the living room but they were his dogs and his dogs wouldn’t bite unless they were instructed to. I didn’t recognize the young guys in the living room but the two at the door immediately started smiling and stood up when they saw me.

Aaron and Allen were twins and they’d grown up with us. We all played baseball together. My career ended in high school once I realized my fast ball topped out at 60 mph. Aaron and Allen were suspended for fighting and just said screw school. Niles was the best out of all of us. He could swing a bat like Ken Griffy Jr. and throw a ball like Roger Clemens but once the three of us stopped playing, so did he. I graduated to college and the three of them graduated to the streets.

Aaron and Allen lived Niles because he gave them purpose. They were just being thugs to be thugs but Niles gave them a reason to be thugs. He took pistols out of their hands and told them to use them only when necessary. He showed them how to save money and get what they wanted with respect and not fear. They were his soldiers and even though they were smiling I could see the disappointment in their eyes.

“It’s been a minute Alek, hate for this to be the reason you’re coming to see your man.”

“How is he?”

“You know Niles, he’s ice; but that’s mostly for the soldiers. It was his brother. Outside of us going to the funeral home and the service today, he hasn’t left the garage. The streets are waiting and the goons are getting antsy but we won’t do nothing until the boss tells us which way to rock.”

Stepping past them and taking the stairs down into the garage he saw why he spent so much time down. Calling it a garage was a disservice. There were three cars in there and a couple bikes but there was also a pool table, a bar, a couple couches and full bath. He was still wearing the suit he wore at the funeral, the sleeves were rolled up and his tie was loosened on his neck.

There was music playing in the background but he didn’t know the rapper. He was polishing the candy red Impala. There were two luxury cars and an SUV in the driveway but he was focused on the oldest car in the garage. The one he’d bought from his brother when he was only 16 for 600 dollars. They went all over Texas in that car and got stuck so many times they both learned how to work on cars.

Walking towards him he looked up and threw the rag on the ground before breaking out into a big smile. It started with a handshake before he pulled him in to a hug. They’d been friends since they’d both been forced to sit in church all day at the age of 5. They’d borrowed clothes, fought together, shared women and money. But at some point Alek had to make the decision that the life Niles was living was going to get him killed and he couldn’t watch his bestfriend go down that path. Walking away from his friend meant walking away from the wife he introduced him to and the godchildren he’d come to love.

“They shot him like a dog in a ditch A! They caught him leaving home and going to work and hit him over 24 times. My brother wouldn’t about this life! You know that shit! Everybody know that shit! The police acting like this over a bitch but what nigga you know do ambush him and hit him that many times and be that clean getting away if it was over a bitch?”

He grabbed the bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label off the bar and poured us both a glass before he picked up a football and started throwing it in the air.

“He asked about you a lot. He thought maybe you tried to creep with my wife or some shit like that. Everyone asks about you, even my kids and you know… I don’t have answers for none of them because like them I’ve spent so much time trying to realize why my bestfirend got ghost on me when I needed him the most! When his bestfriend, my wife needed him! I buried my brother today but I buried my other brother the day you walked out on us!”

“You know why I had to leave bro. You have enough money, you got the house and the wife and the businesses, why the streets!? If you don’t get got by whoever hit your brother or the cops, it’s going to be one of those young boys upstairs that want your spot!”

He threw the football at the wall and got in his face.

“They don’t want my spot! They just want to be on a winning team! They know loyalty, unlike you A. What do you want man? What do you want?”

Putting his drink down on the table he straightened his own tie and looked Niles in the face.

“I know who killed your brother.”

To Be Continued…

Street Life…

“Do you think God forgives us for our sins? Not the shit we confess to when guilt overcomes us but the shit that we’re so ashamed of that we’ll never tell another soul?”  

“This life we live… I can’t answer that question homie. Sometimes I feel like we soldiers out here just doing what we need to do to live dog. But I just don’t know, it’s only so much shit you can repent for before your seat in hell is already reserved.”

The sky was clear, it wasn’t like it was in the city. We were sitting in my garage, passing a blunt and sipping on some Johnny Walker. Anybody that would have driven by would have thought we were two executives or business men just unwinding after a rough day. We’d just heard that one of our boys got lit up coming out the strip club. I took it as being part of the game, my partner was taking it way harder than that, I could see it in his face.

“About a week ago, me and Harold went to ride on these dudes that owed B some money. We pull on the street, hit the lights, put the masks on and the dudes weren’t older than thirteen or fourteen. I couldn’t do shit but just sit there, Harold got out the car… Walked up and put two in both their heads before they even knew what hit them. I know the rules to the game so I got out and put one a piece in their chest. We get back to the spot, I ask B if he knew were just boys. You know what he said? “They shouldn’t have been playing a grown man’s game.””

He stood up and started pacing, I just sat back and watched the stress and pain take over. People think about thugs and think about animals and fake ass rappers. It ain’t really like that, growing up what the hell else you go do when your mama can’t pay the bills but she’s working two jobs. When your daddy ain’t never been around and ain’t shit to eat but the little to keep us going. You do whatever and you grow up getting used to that money. Next thing you know you twenty nine and lucky to be alive but living with demons and memories you can’t shake.

“Look at us man! LOOK AT US! Wearing slacks and suits, married with kids. Wives with degrees from the suburbs pretending like we not street niggas! You know I go home to Kim, kiss my kids, fuck my wife and then spend the whole night just lying there. Scared to sleep because if the nightmares don’t get me some nigga from outchea might run in my spot looking for me and get my family! Them lil niggas was babies man and we just hit em before they even fucking lived. How you live with some shit like that? I tried to remember last night how many bodies I got on me and I couldn’t. These dudes in the street respect my name and my murder game but I don’t even want to live no more. If it wouldn’t for my kids, I’d eat this fucking nine Jake.”

B tried to tell me he was weak, that the game wasn’t in him no more but I told him if he touched my boy then that meant beef with me. But hearing him talk, hearing the sadness and pain in his voice, the regret for the shit he’d done, the shit we’d done. I knew we couldn’t trust him. When a man starts to talk about killing himself he’s lost his will. That’s how niggas end up snitchin, end up feeling like they need to right their wrongs. I hit the button and the garage door started to let down. I wouldn’t let a stranger do what I needed to do.

“We started young man. We done went to jail together, fucked our first bitches together, robbed our first spot together. You my brother man, you always been my brother. We went from standing in lines for Jordan’s to sitting front row at Rockets games. We could have left this bullshit street shit to the young guns years ago but you know why you still do it? Because it’s who we are, it don’t matter what we tell ourselves it feels good to have that gun in your hand and a niggas life in your hands. I’m not scared to die man, my family good if I go out tomorrow. I can’t live my life like B, sitting in an office pretending that I’m not what I am. I’m a goon! A fucking soldier! And I’m a live and die like one! Fuck a conscience. I love you bro.”

He just smiled and turned his back to me, looking at a picture of us from the Miami a couple years back.

I took the knife out my pocket and clicked it open, before he could react I grabbed his head, snapped his neck back and swiped the blade across his throat. He couldn’t talk, he just looked at me as the life drained from him, I held him in my arms and cried for my friend. Maybe he could find the peace in death that he couldn’t find in life.

Better that he go out a real nigga than a snitch.