Say Their Names is a rallying cry for justice, an idea to resist the violence of cops who kill People of Color. The names we’re encouraged to say belong to people who died from police violence, mostly shot.
These words are from a David Rovics song “Say Their Names” which is intense and powerful. It was hard for me to hear, at first. The violence is painful to imagine and know. But it’s real–these people were killed, and so many more. If we can feel anger at the injustice and let the anger energize us to work for a better world, the feelings can be appropriate.
I love names as magic words. They evoke family history and richly vivid lives. Honoring victims of racist violence by saying their names is the least I can do. Facing it, not turning away.
Hearing this song, I think of Tashii Brown, who was murdered here in Las Vegas. I think of other crazy people such as myself, because the last person on this list, Micah Xavier Johnson, believed he was still at war. I’ve never been in the military, but I have c-PTSD.
Many people considered mentally ill have PTSD and c-PTSD; we get stuck in flashbacks, have vivid nightmares, and sounds or other sensory stimulation can put us into a panicked survival mode, like we’re in death-danger again. These experiences can kick us out of shared reality and make use do things that don’t make sense to other people.
That’s something we’d never choose–the PTSD and c-PTSD are from trauma that never should have happened to us to begin with. Society failed to protect us, we were harmed, and then society hates on us for being crazy and a danger. But we are valid humans who dealt with impossible stress as best we could.
I relate to Tashii Brown and Micah Xavier Johnson, even though they were Black men and I’m a white woman–our crazy is something in common. Seeing the world in a different way, and navigating huge feelings that might not make sense to other people. I love them extra.
If I can face the reality of police violence, that’s a step toward working against it. I resist violence of all kinds by working for radical mental health and peace, building bridges, doing works of mercy, and helping Ming with the Las Vegas Street Medics.
All those things I would do, even if cops didn’t murder Black people. But keeping this intense motivation in mind–feels powerful, like a seed of potential. When I feel like giving up, I remember what I’m working for. I can rest skillfully, so I won’t burn out.
I’m grateful to to David Rovics for this beautiful song that breaks my heart where it needs to be broken. The poster is public domain. Please let me know if I can share with you a paper copy or the pdf. Ming and I got some printed at our favorite place.
Thank you to everyone working toward justice and an end to police killings.