I Don’t Want to Die with My Hands Up

We deserve more.

Photo by Kandace Rodriguez

I don’t want to die with my hands up.

I don’t want to die at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve but look away when my life is on the line.

I don’t want to lie face down on the concrete with cuffs on my wrists, hoping for someone — anyone to be my savior.

I don’t want to die with your arms gripping my neck, squeezing away my last breaths.

And, I don’t want to die while fleeing, feeling the blows to the back like my ancestors before me.

I don’t want to be a hashtag.

I don’t want to die under your knee, feeling the weight of your world pressed against me.

I’ve seen this movie too often and this is a role I don’t wish to play.

Despite the lies that you’ve been told, know that I’ve never seen a gun this close. Know that the sweat on my brow and the tremble of my hands are the results of fear.

I know that the complexion of my skin frightens you, but understand that the only weapon here is the one that you are holding, and I am petrified.

No, I don’t have a weapon in the car. If I did, I’d tell you.

Even though there are no guarantees of my safety, I am complying.

My heart is racing, my blood is pumping, and you refuse to tell me why I’m being detained. You refuse to tell me how I can get out of this — how this even involves me.

And, I don’t want to die with my hands up.

No, I don’t want to exit my vehicle because there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever return to it.

No, I don’t want to sit in yours because when I woke up today, I did not plan to die in custody.

You don’t have to do this. I’ve done nothing wrong, but you don’t believe me and I’m running out of options.

Running is an option, but that gives you a license to kill.

And, I don’t want to die with my hands up.

If you want me to call you “sir” or “ma’am,” I will.

I will call you officer, I will be polite, and I will comply. I will do anything that you ask of me because it may be the last thing I do.

And, I don’t want to die with my hands up.

Even if you were to let me go, know that I cannot let go of this moment. The minutes that we’ll spend here will never leave me.

No one gets to choose how they die, but no one wants this.

We deserve more.

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