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The list keeps getting longer: Tryavon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling…

Black people killed by cops in admittedly complicated, but largely avoidable situations. It’s not that each of the deceased was perfectly blameless in the situation; it’s that the circumstances did not call for death. We can dispute the facts of each case, and many do. Facts matter, but life does, too. When a life is taken, an image-bearer is erased from this world. Death is tragic, and it is human to mourn.

Every time another black person’s life is taken and exposed on camera for millions to see, I am reminded how dangerous it is to walk around in black skin in America. As a black male, in particular, I have learned not just caution, but fear of cops. I know that being a Christian, pursuing a PhD, making my subjects and verbs agree, being a husband and father, none of that protects me from the racial bias embedded in our society. On any given day, I could become a hashtag.

When I saw the footage recording Alton Sterling’s last moments on earth, I felt like it could have been me. When tragedy is so personal, so frequent, all you can do is feel. As posts and comments tumble through your news feed, it’s good to put down the smartphone and listen to songs that heal.

Derek Minor – Free

“It’s like a bad nightmare that never ends. I couldn’t sleep last night so I wrote this song. For the hurt: We shall overcome. God got us.” -Derek Minor 

Wake me up from this nightmare, tell me this ain’t true
Do black men have rights? Do black men bear the image of God too? (We do!)
Cuz if we do, then tell me
Why we always get shot down
Why we can’t get a trial date
Why’s death the only answer now? (It’s not!)…

But I know the Lord’s still Just
And I know He still loves us
But I’m starting to feel in America
The justice system means ‘just us’.

Beleaf Mel – Alton Feels “Keep Scrolling”

“Just thoughts on how we are numb to death. I don’t even feel it the same anymore.
We Just Keep scrolling pass the evidence… ‘Scroll Scroll’
Hoping to spark some convos on this subject.” -Beleaf Mel

See how fire works on the 4th of July?
I don’t know if that’s a fire cracker popping off
Or if that’s a glock, lock and loaded, knocking off somebody’s skull
I just know my brothers better answer when I call…

Summer time: dead bodies, we don’t mind, keep scrolling down the timeline.
Scroll, scroll.

Trip Lee – Coulda Been Me

“I’m hurting because of the strange run-ins I’ve had with the cops in the past. I’m hurting because every black man I know has had similar run-ins…So many of us are hurting because we think to ourselves, ‘It could’ve been me.” -Trip Lee

Don’t nobody wanna hear our pain
That’s how I’m feeling when I’m flipping through them Twitter comments
All I feel is rain
They telling me to get over it, it’s old
That stuff don’t exist no more
But that don’t ring true when I look in these streets
So it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me…

I want to say to all my young black men
I know it’s feeling like we just can’t win
But in your anger, don’t sin
Don’t affirm what they thinking
Don’t let nobody tell us we ain’t got worth
Somebody try to shut us down
That will not work
I know it ain’t fairBut we know that He caresAnd one day, He’ll wipe away tears

Where’s your hope at?
Mine is in him.
Yeah we got work to do, but my hope is in Him.
They got work to do (too), but my hope is in Him.

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