Nia Forrester has a new book out and I can wait to read this.
Check it out.
Kai is an accidental activist, drawn to protest only because the alternative—to not protest—feels unimaginable in a turbulent time like this.
And Lila is a longtime social justice warrior. At least in theory.
Trying to find their footing and independent voices in the middle of a new movement, they just might find something else—a new love.
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I met my wife in jail today. I know it sounds crazy but for real, I’ma marry this girl.
First time I saw her was out there by the statue. The crowd was thick, and there was already smoke in the air because some fool set fire to a police car and after that, we just went off. Everybody was getting hype, not because we were looking for shit to tear up (okay, maybe some of us were) but because the energy in the air just … snapped.
I don’t know how else to explain it. One minute, the crowd was taut and wound up tight and the next, we smelled smoke and the tightness pulled … extending itself until everything broke free. Once that happened, the march turned into an all-out melee with folks running this way and that way and yelling and screaming. Some of the organizers were trying to get the situation under control, but by then it was too late, and things had jumped all the way off. One minute I was walking next to my boy, Lamar, and the next everyone had splintered off into little satellites of chaos.
Most of the action was over where this one skinny white dude looked like he came out of nowhere and just started whacking the hell out of the statue that had long stood, like an enduring insult to the city’s Black population. The white kid mounted its back, trying to tear it down. And it looked like he might do it, too. It started rocking on its base, just with the weight of this skinny kid who had the determination of ten men ten times his size. I mean, he seemed to want that sucker down way more than any of us Black folks did.
Everybody was cheering him on, and I was doing the same.
That phrase—mob mentality—that’s some real shit. It’s its own kind of high, giving over your will to the will and energy of the mass of bodies pressing around you, your mind as blank as sheet of white paper.
So everybody was distracted, watching this kid, right? Just chanting and egging him on. Didn’t even spot this whole wall of cops coming down 15th Street, all suited-up like they were going to war, helmets in place, batons in hand, the whole nine.
I don’t care what nobody tell you. You see that, and the only impulse you have is to flee. That flight-or-fight impulse kicks in like a motherfucker. And if you got a lick of sense, seeing them looking the way they did, you’d better choose ‘flight’ over fight. Even me, a kid from the DC suburbs who never until this week had too many face-to-face interactions with law enforcement, negative or otherwise. You see all those dudes in blue, grimacing behind their face-shields and something inside you just activates and says, ‘run!’
Except, it wasn’t a voice inside me, it was a real voice. A female voice.
Somehow, I heard her over all the other voices, and I wasn’t the only one. It was like we all turned in unison to see the cops headed our way and then we scattered, stumbling over each other and looking for a pathway to escape. But the cops weren’t just ahead of us, they had been approaching for a while and were fanned out in a semi-circular formation, virtually surrounding us.
It looked like they had pretty early on focused in on the group that I was part of, the group that was preoccupied with tearing down that statue. Before I started booking like everyone else, I spared one glance in the direction of the girl whose voice sounded the alarm.
She was wearing a black tank top, black jeans and a grey sweatshirt knotted around her waist. She carried a backpack, and her long braids, a few of them bearing cowrie shells draped long, down her back and over her shoulders. Her expression was one of pure, animal panic. Just as she turned to follow her own advice and run, someone bumped her shoulder and she spun, almost in a complete circle, looking dazed and disoriented for a moment.
Only about fifty feet away from her, I thought about going to help her out, but then someone was jostling me, and it was like a jolt back to reality.
Every cell in my body seemed to be screaming that word, except not the word, but the instinct.
So, I did.
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