‘There Are No Victories That Will Bring Us Peace’

It is good and right that we hound the state into giving us justice, but blacks cannot delude themselves into thinking that the state will ever become justice. There are no laws that can be passed or reforms that can be pursued that will allow us to stop being vigilant. There are no victories that will bring us peace. We will never be able to pound our swords into plowshares, because we will always have to be prepared to fight. Dr. King, our beautiful prophet, was wrong. The arc of the moral universe does not lead anywhere in particular, not in this life. If it bends towards justice, it is only because it is pulled that way by our constant effort, by our unceasing straining and sweating and shouting.

I wish I were ending this comment with answers or at least encouragement, but I have none to offer. I just have a list of things that I know. I know that I have never called the police, and if in future I do, it will be because I have reached the furthest of last resorts. I know that I am taking steps to learn how to arm myself for the protection of my loved ones and my community. I know that I will always vote “not guilty” if I am on a jury prosecuting a non-violent drug offense. I know that I will always oppose any expansion of the state’s power to harm and jail its citizens. I know that I will be going to community meetings and protests and vigils and organizing sessions and memorial services for the rest of my life. I know that one day I will tell my child, if I am blessed enough to have one, that the world is afraid of them, and that the police are not to be trusted. I know that one day, that child will tell her own child the same thing. And yet, I know that I still have enough hope to want to bring children into this world, broken as it is. That is something.

Ezekiel Kweku wrote this profound essay in August after a police officer named Darren Wilson killed an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown. After last night’s verdict, it resonates.

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