Kids Still Die: “Living” the Consequence of European Conquest

We are still living out the consequence of European conquest and colonization of the Indigenous peoples and lands of this continent. The very law they raise up to defend their right to bear arms was a law born out of their will to protect what they stole and to defend it by deadly means. Whether we are talking about the young man in Buffalo, New York or the young man in Uvalde, Texas, their ability to obtain military-grade weaponry and drive to a local community and unleash hellish horror on defenseless persons is a terrifying testament to this undeniable fact of history. They were enabled by that law and the backers of it who continue to seek to protect what is yet unjustly in their possession.

We now live in a world made by that history. Every day. And the minions who seek to criminalize the telling of that history know full well what they are doing and why. The damnation of our present world is the cost of our so-called leaders attempting to negotiate with what can only be understood as evil incarnate. There is a poem by Langston Hughes entitled “Kids Who Die.” I read it this morning and my eyes flooded when I arrived at the last stanza. For despite all that is prophetic in the poem, Hughes yet remained hopeful that some future generation would finally cherish the lives of children. We are that future. And we have failed.

Every one of us bears this burden every time we wake up in this world defenseless against the possibility of our lives ending or the life of a loved one ending due to a single bullet discharged from a gun in the hands of someone high on the toxic fumes of this history and its consequences.

The resolution is not impossible or improbable. All it would require is for a nation to come to terms with its horrific origin and right the wrong by means of how it created it. And yet, some hold sacred this bloody past and thus defend this bloody present as though their lives depended on it. In truth, their livelihood depends on it, not their lives. And our lives are way more sacred and precious than anyone’s interpretation of the past.

For the sake of our children, may we muster the courage to stop making excuses and fight on their behalf for the future that Langston hoped would be ours.

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Ewuare X. Osayande

Activist. Poet. Essayist. Author of Black Phoenix Uprising. Learn more about his work at racial-justice.org.