Essay Black Lives Matter

Dismantling Solid Bricks

A knapsack packed with the essentials has been resting in the corner of the room, where my sister stood with a pregnant belly. Terrified of COVID-19, she needed constant reassurance even though I lived with the same fears and questions. We couldn’t even hug.

Month of May came by she gave birth. Her newborn son was in an incubator. She left the hospital and started wiping off everything she would touch with sanitizer in her home. It became a full time job. The devastating part was that grandma couldn’t see the newborn for a couple of months.

July arrived grandma quarantined herself. She had a COVID -19 test. Her goal was to hold her grandson. We became afraid of each other. The sacrifices we made helped to transform us to some degree. The constant scrubbing of hands and wearing face masks became part of our daily practice of compassion and caring for each other.

The value of black lives has worn thin. All in the family worry about my thirty-five year old brother. Being a black man in America ain’t easy. We don’t want his face pushed down on the pavement or falsely accused of a crime.

News of violence about people of color tore our small foundation of hope, already unstable. Now, we’re rebuilding hope & trust in the goodness of our world. My newborn nephew will grow up. May we make much progress in valuing black lives before he is of age to understand the manic oppressive world of people of color.

My knapsack in the corner of the room carries a small book of essays by Audre Lorde titled The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House.

My anger shifted from moving towards healing to a mass of rage that needs to be cut off at its roots.Transformation is not a linear journey.

I realized my progress – then regression – as ever evolving.

Maybe moving towards the light of understanding requires us to look at the darkness even more closely.

I picked up my knapsack headed to the public bus to visit my nephew. I wish rage like a wild leopard would both protect our blackness and teach us the tools to dismantle solid bricks.

About Jerrice Baptiste

Jerrice J. Baptiste has authored seven children’s books and a book of poems for adults, Wintry Mix. Her writing has appeared in The Yale Review, Mantis, The Minetta Review, The Caribbean Writer, Claw & Blossom, and numerous others. Her poetry in Haitian Creole and English and collaborative songwriting are featured on the Grammy Award winning album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. Jerrice teaches poetry where she lives in NY. Visit her at

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