With more than 1,000 likes (and various other emoticons) and nearly 200 shares, a thoughtful and sobering Facebook post by Twin Cities writer Marlon James is going viral. James writes eloquently in the wake of the Jeronimo Yanez trial about what it is like to be black in Minnesota.
“I go out of my way to avoid police, because I don’t know how to physically act around them,” James writes. “Do I hold my hands in the air and get shot, Do I kneel and get shot? Do I reach for my ID and get shot? Do I say I’m an English teacher and get shot? Do I tell them everything I am about to do, and get shot? Do I assume than seven of them will still feel threatened by one of me, and get shot? Do I simply stand and be big black guy and get shot? Do I fold my arms and squeeze myself into smaller and get shot? Do I be a smartass and get shot? Do I leave my iPhone on a clip of me on Seth Meyers, so I can play it and say, see, that’s me. I’m one of the approved black guys. And still get shot?”
James, who grew up in Jamaica, won the Man Booker Prize in 2015 for “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” He teaches at Macalester College in St. Paul.