I know you know me. I’m well aware of your presence. While we’ve been sparring for a while now, I realized we’ve never really communicated. I wanted to write to inform you the streets of Chicago has claimed the life of another African American man this week. Seeing how violence has claimed well over 300 in the last seven months which equates to about a 50% rise of murders in the city, I’d imagine you are wondering why this particular murder has occasioned this letter. Well you see this wasn’t just any violent death. This was the death of my cousin. A cousin who grew up in my house as a brother. A cousin who slept in my room and often my bed. Although time, circumstance, and a move to Chicago stole our ability to maintain a sense of great intimacy, he was still someone I loved.
His loss has thrust me into a the kind of nostalgia I typically resent. But it is providing a sense of comfort you’d never understand but I sometimes need. I remember climbing the apple tree in our backyard with him. While fear and a burgeoning common sense always told me to stop climbing when I ran out of thick branches on which to cling, this was not for my cousin/brother. He reached for thin branches. The heights were too seductive. The air far too rich to avoid. He reached for thin branches. He’d leap across the wide part of the creek bed behind the neighborhood park. I’d always step across on a path of generous stones. But my cousin/brother flung his black boy body, eviscerating space and sky. Only sometimes did he make it home dry.
It would be easy to blame Chicago itself…