a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
by Maya DA
I spent most of fifth grade fearing everyday that my brother would be killed. At the very least, that he would be jumped—pounced on by a crew of white boys years older than he was, approaching him as he hung around the G train stop in Brooklyn with his friends after school. I imagined the switchblades they kept tucked away in their pockets slicing into my brother’s belly, carving “nigger,” into his skin. I imagined the boys laughing, running away, never getting caught. And if it wasn’t them, I feared it would be the local cops, shoving my brother against a wall, telling him to stop moving, to stop fighting, to shut up.
For weeks, there had been a rift between a group of white teens, who called themselves the South Brooklyn Boys, or SBB, and the mostly black and Latino boys who attended my brother’s middle school. At the time, my brother was thirteen years old and in eighth grade, but because our schools shared a building, I always knew what was going on. The SBB wasn’t a real gang, just a bunch of eighteen year-olds with too much time and white entitlement on their hands. But kids were still getting hurt, and getting in trouble, and nothing was being done about it. Almost every week there was some kind of fight, either surprise attacks involving just a few people on either side, or straight-up organized brawls in Carroll Park, only a few blocks away from our school building.
Every week, it was something. My brother would come home, tell me that his friend, the one they just called Gomez, had gotten his eardrum popped by some heavy-handed Italian. “Blood came out of it,” my brother told me. The next time, it was another friend, a boy named Wesley who was always nice to me, whose face had been slashed. When parents and teachers heard about Wesley, there were a lot of meetings about what to do, how to keep the kids safe. They all met with the local police precinct, which decided to enact a “Safe Corridors” policy, promising to usher the students from the school to the train each day. But I learned then that you could not trust cops to usher black or brown kids safely anywhere. Because the fights kept happening, and all of a sudden, thirteen-year old boys were being arrested.
Mostly it was because they didn’t move fast enough. Because we’d all be walking to the train, and some kid would stop and buy cheese fries and a Tropical Fantasy soda, and then stand outside the station eating it. Because a cop would march over and tell us all to go home, and one of my brother’s friends would roll his eyes and say, “I’m eating, though.” I remember waiting to go into the subway one day and watching a police officer push a girl up against a mailbox, her face pressed against the cold metal, and tell her not to fuck with him. “It’s not my day today, it’s not my day,” he said.
None of the South Brooklyn Boys ever got arrested. Not that year anyway. Instead, old white ladies would come out on their stoops with phones to their ears, calling cops to come quick because the black boys were loitering again. Instead, my brother bought his own knife, and taught me one day after school how to hold my keys between my fingers so that if anyone ever tried to jump me, I could cut them. Instead, my father yelled one night because my brother wouldn’t take his du-rag off before leaving the house. Do you know what they could do to you? I didn’t know whether by ‘they,’ my father meant racist white boys or the cops, but I figured maybe it didn’t make much of a difference.
Rest in Power and Peace, Mike Brown.