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You Won’t Have To Force Me To Serve Next Time. I’ll Volunteer.

Black lives matter and I’m tired of grieving.

Tired of meeting intelligent and brilliant young black boys knowing that our country doesn’t value them nor their lives.

Tired of crying when I think about my future family and how I’ll have to raise my boys to be afraid of a system that should protect them.

I’m tired of watching families grieve unjust loss with tears of anger flooding from their eyes.

And I’m tired of people acting like nothing is wrong. Or that it is not a race matter.

I’m actually very tired of this.

But in the midst of being tired I remember another time, not too long ago, when my own personal grief left me tired….

This past summer I was selected to serve 20 days of grand jury duty.

I was legit tired as this was also when the grief of my mother’s passing was about to peak.

My family and I were approaching the anniversary of her death and the last thing I wanted to do in the midst of this sadness was sit in a room for hours on end listening to crimes.

So I wanted to tell the warden: “I can’t be objective. I’m too tired, too sad and too unstable to sit on this jury…please excuse me.”

But when I looked around the room and saw that I was one of few with color in their complexion I had to stop being tired – for at least 20 days.

Every case that came our way (and there were tons) that involved a person (or worse a man) of color made me feel a different kind of tired. Tired as in fed up.

“This man is someone’s son, brother, father, boyfriend, husband, friend etc….he matters to me.” I would literally think this as they walked in the jury chamber and delivered their testimony. And while I couldn’t yell out, “I see you!” like I wanted to – I made sure they knew I saw them by listening.

I listened for the evidence while simultaneously observing the other 22 jurors.

And together we all  listened to the prosecutors do what they were sent to do – prosecute.

However our job as 23 citizens was to:

“…not to determine guilt or innocence, but to decide whether there is probable cause to prosecute someone for a felony crime.”

So before I would cast my vote in favor of or against an indictment –  I listened for and demanded the evidence.

But some jurors weren’t following the “rules”…

They had already cast their vote well before they entered the grand juror chamber.

I watched them check out while the evidence was presented, not ask questions when questions were clearly necessary, and worse, vote for a human (often times black) to be indicted.

And each and every day I left tired.

I listened to the police officers. Their uniforms often times speaking louder than their testimonies.

However unaffected by their responsibility to society I still voted based on “probable cause” – ie. evidence. Not hearsay. Not emotion. And certainly not by the police report that “they” wrote.

So I just wonder today, months later – what did the room look like when the grand jurors watched the videos (which is clearly probable cause ie. evidence) of men saying “Don’t shoot” or “I can’t breathe…”

Maybe they weren’t following the rules too and voted before they entered the grand juror chamber.

They were selected to raise their voices and hands for justice as grand jurors and their negligence of this duty makes me tired.

Racism still exists and I’m still tired.

Black lives matter and I’m tired of grieving.

You won’t have to force me to serve next time. I’ll volunteer.*

A RADical movement is needed, what are you doing to empower change? Would love to hear your comments below.

* Most states won’t let you simply volunteer, but you can show you care by not consistently postponing your civil duty once you are summoned. Serving is not only a duty but at this point a necessary honor. Speak out simply by showing up.

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