In memory of the Lt. Richard Collins III, stabbed to death for no reason other than being who he was.
To my UMD family which will observe a moment of silence in his honor at 12: 05 on Wednesday, August 30, 2017
If you ever gave yourself permission
To imagine that this wrong can be “righted,”
I dare you to stop by the Collins’ home and
Look for the footprints of laughter wiped off the windows and walls,
The joyful air sucked out of rooms.
Do not turn you face away when you enter!
See the traces of terror charted on faces, bodies, and hands,
On now, always, and ever.
Do not – for one second – act as if what has happened can be undone.
Ask yourself (loudly if you must) :
“Why do I not flee this town?”
“What do I get that is worth witnessing this horror on my doorsteps ?”
“This thing that hides in the murkiness of silence and gets people drunk on the color of their own skin.”
““This creature that denigrates everything other than itself.”
“This color-coded terror that goes wild and stabs the city in the heart”
Whatever you do,
Do not act as if this murderous midnight madness did not happen,
That alcohol, drugs, or depression can explain it away.
Put your clothes on!
Your least angry outfit made with an enduring fabric (for you are not going to a fancy political rally to be numbed with pomp and promise).
Find yourself the kind of shoes in which you can walk all day – and go to sleep at night,
Umbrella for rain and hats for the scorching sun,
Food to stay alive, songs to keep your pace steady,
And a pair of binoculars - for you will fail if you cannot see far.
Make sure your hands are not knifed, your jaws not locked, and your fists not clenched.
This is not an easy gratifying shooting match.
It is an act of care and precision,
Confusing, unpredictable, and beautiful like painting for the first time.
Or embroidering a fine message on the fabric of life itself,
On the silky cosmos of your own being.
And it needs to be repeated, every day
When you come face-to-face with the raging creature,
Carried on the shoulders of contempt and confusion,
Do not panic!
Yes, it will see your fear,
But it will also see that you are bigger than your fear.
It is important that you stay close and look the creature in the eye
When your eyes meet, see that it is wounded
See it all:
the pain, the ignorance, the rage, the conceit...
Then – with the deep conviction that what you are doing matters
And in the calmest, most measured voice you can muster
“Enough is enough!”
“Not on my doorsteps!”
University of Maryland– Thursday, August 24, 2017