Zora was dancing on her tippy toes
“Mama I cant see anything!”
Mama picked Zora up and put her on her shoulders to look at the crowd that had gathered.
People held signs that said “Not one more!” “No Justice, No Peace!” and spelled out names like “Michael Brown,” “Trayvon Martin,” and “Oscar Grant.”
Mama what’s going on?
“This is a protest, Zora. This is how we talk to the world. People are tired of not being treated right. They are tired of being hurt. You see those names over there, love? Those are the names of your brothers who have been killed. Do you know what that means? It means people didn’t care about them and hurt them so bad that they died.”
Zora slid down from her mama’s arms. She looked in between all the legs of the big people crowded around her. Close by she saw a little boy her same size. He turned around and looked at Zora. He smiled quickly at her then turned back to the crowd and put his arms around his daddy’s legs. His daddy held a sign above his head and was shouting “I believe that we will win!” The whole crowd started chanting too. Mama picked Zora back up and they chanted “I believe that we will win!” together. Everyone jumped up and down. It felt like folks were dancing like people do when they hear a good song.
That night Zora dreamt of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown. They brought friends with them. They sat with her at a big long table. They smiled and laughed. They ate chocolate cake with her and pushed her on the swings. They clapped and sang a song that sounded so sweet. She hugged each and every one of them.
“Mama, can we invite Oscar, Trayvon and Michael over for dinner?” Zora asked at breakfast.
Mama sighed. “My love, they aren’t coming back. Their bodies were killed. But that doesn’t mean their spirits were. You know what we have to do, Zora? We have to keep going out and telling the world that we miss them. We have to talk to the world and let the world know that it’s not right to hurt our brothers or our sisters. We have to honor them by speaking their names in the air, pouring libations for them at night, and writing poems for them at school. Can you help Mama do that, love?”
“Yes, Mama. I can do that.”
The next day Zora came home from school to see Mama painting a sign that said “Black Lives Matter.” “Want to go to the lake, Baby Girl?”
“You get to hold this sign okay? Know what it says?”
“Black Lives Matter, Mama!”
Thanks right sweetheart. You matter so much to me. You matter more than the stars and the moon. You matter more to me than that great big ocean. You deserve the world and the world deserves you. You understand that, Zora?
That night Zora walked side by side with her Mama holding a sign that said “Black Lives Matter.” She realized she was talking to the world. Telling the world that she mattered, that her brothers and sisters mattered. She held the sign up a little higher and sang with the crowd “I believe that we will win!”
Written by Mariah Rankine-Landers.
Dedicated to the insurmountable list of our Black brothers and sisters killed at the hands of police violence and systemic racism. I do believe that Love will win in the end. Until then we make our lives, our stories, our hopes, our dedication, and our humanity visible. #BlackLivesMatter