I heard them first, or maybe I saw them,
I can’t remember because it was so loud in the restaurant and let me just say that I really hate Salt and Smoke, mediocre food and lackluster hot sauce and only one bathroom, and what type of barbecue place only has one bathroom, I hate the Midwest but anyway when I heard them or maybe saw them the thing that struck me most was the cameras and I guess that’s a little opportunistic but the song said “the revolution will not be televised” and yet there they were, marching, on the Loop where I live, while I was eating dinner with Nathan’s parents, and I’m not sure I can describe the feeling I had inside, the feeling of “your people are in the streets why aren’t you with them you belong there they’re calling to you, you need them they need you go to them join them run now go” and so I was up and on my feet before I had even said Nathan I’m so sorry but I have to go protest may I be excused Ebby come on, and Ebby’s black too and even though I didn’t know I knew she felt it, the need to march, the need to be in the streets, the need to not be left behind, letting them go without us was unthinkable so I rushed through Salt and Smoke and out the door and onto the sidewalk just in time to hear “off of the sidewalks onto the streets” and they were chanting and even though I knew they didn’t I knew they meant me so we went, off of the sidewalks onto the streets, holding hands, smack in the middle of a group of people so diverse, well actually no not very diverse mainly blacks and whites, poc solidarity is a myth so of course no one else was there just those two races, two separate loads of laundry, and speaking of laundry Nick Cannon was at the protest in a Kaepernick jersey but I didn’t even see him until the die-in at the Delmar-Skinker intersection only we weren’t very dead because we were all sitting up plus some people were standing to protect us, and on top of that we kept shouting names into the atmosphere names of black people who have died at the hands of the police and I couldn’t think of Korryn Gaines’ name and as many times as I’ve said “say her name” in the past it felt like a betrayal, but it was all ok because Ebby held my hand and kept me centered and after awhile we kept marching and it got darker, but when I think about it I still think of when I first heard them or maybe saw them, chanting proudly, sun smiling, black t-shirts and black sneakers and black bodies all headed towards healing.
Kaia Angelica Lyons is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis pursuing a B.A. in Drama. She also studies writing, with Creative Nonfiction and Playwriting being her favorite forms. Her piece, "I heard them, or maybe I saw them," was inspired by Diane Seuss' essay "I hoisted them, two drug dealers, I guess that's what they were."
Image:New Message (detail)Erica Mendoza2015muslinH 432" x W 13" x D 24"