Dear Essex,

It is our birthday again. I am sitting here in this tomb of sorrow thinking about your weapons. Since I picked them up, I have been questioning whether I can carry the responsibility you shouldered. You told us that someone would have to answer the mail you leave, the messages on your phone service. Someone will have to tend to the aching that still drives our souls. And since an eternal lights blazes for you in my heart, I picked up your weapons. It is no burden. You ask no more of me than you asked of yourself: no more guilt, no more pity.

It took a while for me to understand, to truly grasp, what your weapons were. I used to think they were rage and belligerence. But now I know they were truth and love. You loved us. You knew we were worth more to each other, to the world. It was love that moved you: to speak, to write, to connect and to dream. It was love that motivated you to walk in the light. You understood full well how blinding the shade can be. So picking up your weapons, I have moved into the light.

I can no longer sit in my community, my own home, and say nothing. You taught us the byproducts of that silence: more violence and discrimination. You taught us that invisibility, life in the shadows, will not save us. Especially now. We are fighting the same battles Harriet, Frederick, Sojourner, Ida, Malcolm, Fannie, and Martin fought. We are still cussing the lack of truth, the absence of willful change and strategic coalitions. We are still seething at the lack of truth as to why we are dying, who wants us dead and what purpose it serves. And the passing ceremonies marking each death will not stop the war. So your weapons are still needed.

When you fell, I picked up your weapons. I don’t know whether I can aim or be as precise as you, but I will wield them.

Always,

Stevie

4-16-21

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