Takeoff and The Constant State of Surviving as a Black Boy or Man in America
I ask that the readers please grant me grace as I write this. It’s derived from a place of genuine hurt. Pain built up after years of tragedies and avoiding trying to become one. The news of Takeoff’s death shook me. It was the first thing I saw when I woke up. And it was being reported by Black With No Chaser. As the news of how and why began to flood in, heartbreak is the only word that can characterize how I interpreted the concept of Takeoff losing his life in such a trivial tragedy. Obviously, that he lost his life at all was too much but that he lost his life the way lost his life just seemed unfair and ruthless.
We grow up with targets on us and spend our lives trying to shake that shit. I don’t think I’ve ever really known what it means to feel safe. To not be on constant alert. Even in good times. I grew up as a Black man in Mississippi. In America, Each day feels like survival. I just wanna see us live in a way that don’t feel like we surviving from second to second, minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day. It don’t matter where you came from, you had to learn to move, where to move, and how to move… the wrong moves really could cost you.
Too many of us have been in bad situations we weren’t trying to be in that could have or did cost us our lives. And too many of us have been in bad situations we were trying to be in that could have or did cost us our lives too. I just want us to live easy lives.
Maybe that’s the wrong phrase. I want us to live easier lives. Cause life is already hard. But the difficulty is compounded by our circumstances, the conditions to which we have been subjected, the nature in which we have been conditioned to arrive at the circumstances, & Our Egos. Cause sometimes Ego is all we got. Or it’s all we believe we have. Or it’s all we thought we had at one time and we never shook that shit to the extent that even when we actually do have something other than our egos, we revert to its familiarity & lean on it.
As a teenager and in my 20s I legit believed I was invincible. I never thought about bleeding, parts of my body breaking or the possibility that I could lose my life ever. I was not afraid of death and in a lot of ways I wanted to prove that to death.
Death has stolen so many of us that way.
I think I was scared of death then. I just told myself I wasn’t because I needed the other folks around me who wanted to be where we knew we didn’t need to be doing shit we knew it wasn’t smart to do to believe that, like them, we weren’t afraid. I think they were scared too. And we weren’t doing things that were “wrong” we were just sometimes putting ourselves in avoidable situations for reasons that today make no sense at all. Except that we had become so accustomed to being in survival mode that being in moments we had to survive felt natural.
We always survived. But some didn’t. Some don’t. It’s hard to hear about senseless tragedies that result in the loss or losses of Black Boys’ & mens’ lives because for me I often imagine the story prior to that moment where tragedy and fate collide. How do we get to that moment? And how do reverse engineer those moments so that we never again get to those moments? How do we transform surviving into thriving and circumvent tragedy. I don’t want us to die violently. I don’t want us to die suddenly. I don’t want us to die tragically. I don’t want us to have to be constantly fixated with death at all. I want us to know what it is to live peacefully so that when it is our time to rest we’ve had a relationship with peace so long that we just feel like we made it home. That’s what’s on my mind. RIP Takeoff & too many others. My heart goes out to your family and friends.