They took her in the dead of the night.
A naive girl with no mother or father to tell her the whole thing was a bad idea.
Not knowing any better, she walked with her head high onto a boat that whispered of promise. She walked onto a boat as a girl who was afraid of what was to come, but she was free, free enough to make this decision.
The journey took.
It took time, it took lives, it took hope.
Had she had the chance to go back, to stand on the shores looking at the strange magnificence that was this ship promising to bring them from the struggles of home to the great promise of a new land, she would’ve turned back, gone back the way she came instead of moving closer, boarding the ship.
As the hull of the ship that would begin to look more and more like a prison beat off the waves of voyage, she slowly lost hope as so many around her had.
The smell of filth and death enveloped her, threatening to be the end of her life.
Months passed and more and more of her people fell lifeless. They were packed so close together; many sobbed as they were forced to remain pressed up against a decaying corpse, one they had once shared a smile with, or told of their dreams for the new world.
Her heart was heavy and her spirits broken as she lay in her own waste waiting.
She had known poverty where she had come from, she had known loneliness and struggle, but on that ship she had learned what it felt like to be broken, to be completely defeated.
When the ship docked, she felt a relief. Finally she could set her feet in the soils of the earth, bask in the gift of sunlight and fill her lungs with the fresh air of the world.
As she stepped out on shaking legs, she shielded her eyes from the sun that had become a stranger to her. With her arms raised, she barely had the time to fill her lungs with fresh air and rid them of the air of death and decay before she felt the brutal weight of iron shackles at her wrists.
This was the end of her life as she knew it, and from this moment on, things would only grow worse.
No longer free, she was property, sold off to the highest bidder to do whatever they wanted of her, no argument. She was to cook, to clean, to do any chore imaginable… those done on her hands and knees and those done on her back.
Defiance was death.
What could she do? The white man that owned her was the law, there was no one here in this new world that would hear her, would do anything to help her with the weight that pulled down on her soul.
Sometimes, defiance was the only way.
As the rain poured down on her stinging the fresh gashes in her back and the worn skin at her wrist, she turned her face up to the heavens. Master standing behind her, she grit her teeth from every lash and realized that this would surely be the death of her… and it should. She was never meant to be owned, her heart was meant to be free and fighting for that freedom would always be worth it.
– – –
He cowered, a young boy thrown into a world of hate.
They walked as a unit, lead as a unit, and wore the uniform so similar to an officer of the law. They ran things in this world, the only thing that told him they were not who he wished them to be was a bright red armband with the familiar terrifying symbol.
He had no chance. His family had been slaughtered some time ago and he ran, hoping to survive the genocide that now took place.
Where could he go? Who could he turn to when the people who were the law were the ones that hunted him?
A young Jewish boy had no chance, could not survive the Nazis on his own.
Time passed and luck was on his side.
Now a boy in his teens, he looked for others. Orphaned children hunted for the blood that ran through them, as though who they were was a choice. He found children with no hope and returned to it them, hiding them, teaching them to survive and to avoid the evil Nazi regime at all cost.
Luck would only bring him so far.
With a gang of children depending on him, he loved them like a family. How could anyone want to do them harm? he wondered.
The safety net he provided them made them careless, and playing in the woods. He ran, the beat of his heart so loud in his ears, to the terrified screams of children and gunfire.
They were lines up, Nazis before them with a smile that chilled him.
Running before them, he threw himself before the gunfire.
They were the law, and surely they would kill all the children he had helped so far, but he could only hope this would give them a small chance, a chance to run, maybe to be captured and free themselves later.
Sometimes, defiance was the only way.
– – –
A young black teen is walking home at night in New York city. With his hands in his pockets to fight the chill of the winter air, he hunches his back and takes quick steps. He just wants to get home.
He knows the moment he gets in, he will be scolded by his mother for being out so late, and he will help his single mother put his little sister to bed so that she could get enough rest to get up early for her early morning shift at her one of her two jobs.
Curfew is a big deal with his mother, she wants him to get enough sleep so that he can be alert at school. He was so close to the scholarship he needed, one his mother had always told him with teary eyes was an opportunity she just couldn’t give him.
That was alright, she had worked for him his whole life, it was time he started working for himself.
He looks at his watch and winces at the time, his mom was definitely going to kill him.
A siren has him jumping as two cops step out of the car and walk towards him. “Can you come over her, son.”
His hands shoot out of his jacket pockets straight up into the air. He doesn’t want any kind of misunderstandings to happen, not to him. “Is there a problem?”
They walk over to him as though they are on the hunt and he is a wounded elk ready for the taking. “Come on over here unless you want there to be.”
His heart is pounding in his chest. He was a young black guy on his own on these streets, they were the law. He couldn’t remember how many videos he had seen on the web of this very situation, young black men being stopped, being hunted by the same people who had sworn to protect.
“You are looking suspicious.” They tell him.
He can’t find the words, his mind is racing. “Suspicious?” It’s all he can muster. He didn’t know what to do, he is not a thug, he went to school got good grades and went home. He was at a study group, he didn’t know what to do here.
“Put your hands on the hood of the car.”
The bigger man grabs hold of the collar of his coat and swings him around so his hands are pressed firmly on the hood of their squad car. “Sir, I don’t know what the problem is. Can you tell me what I did wrong?”
“I am the one asking the questions.” A hand shoves hard into his back, pushing him further down onto the hood.
He remembers what his mother told him, don’t give them any trouble, just let them know you are a student, you are just trying to get home and let them do what they are doing. Don’t give these cops a reason to shoot you.
How ridiculous is that? He used to think, don’t give them a reason to shoot you? These are police officers, and he was a good kid, they would never stop him, they would never have any reason to.
“I go to high school, I am just coming back from a study group, I am just trying to get home.”
“Did I tell you to speak?” His back pack is forcefully ripped off, the contents spilled out onto the street.
His chest tightens, his eyes gloss over as he tries to keep his cool. “Sir, I just want to go home. Please, you’re hurting me.”
“Be quiet!” He yells at him.
His shoulder is in agony, being pushed the wrong way by the cop who won’t explain to him what is happening. He moves slightly, trying to adjust, he just can’t take the pain.
Suddenly he’s ripped off the hood of the car, pushed down to the floor. “I said ‘don’t move’!” A knee is pushed into his back, the side of his face pushed down against the cold pavement. “Didn’t I tell you not to move!”
He hadn’t told him that, he thought.
The tears broke free, “Sir, please. Don’t do this to me. I don’t know what you want, please don’t do this.”
A woman walks over, “What are you doing to him? What is he being arrested for?”
“Miss, just mind your business!” They bark at her.
She shakes her head, pulling out her phone and pressing the record button as she films the whole thing, the light from the flash pissing off the cops she argues with. “Look at him, he is just a kid. What do you think he did?”
“He is a suspicious character ma’am, please just go on with you night.” The other cop stands and walks over to her.
Squaring her shoulders, she shook her head. A frail woman in her mid twenties with big blue eyes and blonde hair. “Why is he suspicious? Because he’s black?”
They stare at her.
“Leave him alone, he is just a kid.”
“Are we going to have a problem here?” he asks her, challenging.
“Please, call my mom. She thinks I am coming home, just call my mom.” He shouts the number to the woman from his place on the floor.
The woman quickly punches in the number, disgust on her face as she looks over at the cop. “You know, the only thing your uniforms are missing is the red arm band with the swastika on it and a whip attached to your belt.”
“Miss,” he takes a step towards her.
“Step back from me sir, I am witnessing a hate crime taking place and am trying to figure out who to report it to.”
“This is not a hate crime.” he laughed.
She looked from the young kid on the floor, to the cop forcefully straddling his back, to the officer with his hands on his belt trying to intimidate her.
Two big white cops assaulting a young black kid in the dead of the night when no one is around to witness it.
“Isn’t it?” She asked him.