Dear Kamala Harris
An Open Letter to Kamala Harris, Attorney General of California, on her refusal to prosecute the policemen who murdered Alan Blueford and other youth of color across the state
I know you’re from here.
Born and raised in this town of sideshows and sidewalk cemeteries. This town of beautiful people and ugly conditions. This town that loves its warriors. Steph and Klay and good old Timmy Hardaway. Killer crossovers and killer cops who crossed over that thin blue line, left another kid flat-lined on 90th and Birch. Kamala, I know you’re from here.
I know you remember how it tastes. The fish tacos on 27th and Foothill. The pho in Funktown. The 3am chicken and waffles in Jack London. (Don’t lie, I saw you there last week.)
I know you love this town that raised you, that praised you. Before you left for law school and Sacramento. Oakland remembers you. Do you remember us?
Do you remember Alan?
Kamala, do you remember Alan’s smile? The one that could fill the whole valley behind Skyline. Where he was about to graduate. Where I used to teach. Where the flats come to the hills, but they never let you forget your place. Where the fancy new theater was built by Tom Hanks, the local boy gone big and Hollywood.
Kamala, what if that was Tom Hanks’ son who got shot?
Would you prosecute for Forrest Gump’s family? It seems like you forgot all the little Bubbas out here. He was 18, a boy doing what the movie told him: Run, Alan, run! Run, Alan, run!
But OPD never did like a happy ending.
13 is too young. 18 is too young. 77 is too young to die like this. Kamala, how old do these cops have to be before you haul them in the same way you do a kid who took a candy bar from Walgreens?
You call it three strikes. But how many at-bats will these baseball-badged Riders get before you call them out?
You are the ump. They are chumps. The town is the tree, her youth the stumps, cut down before their prime, time and time again.
And no, it’s not just the cops. And no, it’s not about filling more cells. But Kamala, if you don’t stand up for our young oaks, who will? Clear cut like the Amazon, black youth endangered species with less protections than a spotted owl.
Kamala, this is Black History Month. How are you celebrating?
America’s shortest month, a people’s history reduced to a series of firsts: Jackie. Gwendolyn. Thurgood. Barack. Kamala. You are the first black attorney general in California history. First is a beautiful thing. But what about the lasts?
What about the day when we will have the very last black boy in Oakland shot by police? The very last brown girl at Skyline to get pushed out by junior year? The very last semester that I go to more funerals than graduations?
Kamala, will you be the first to give us the lasts that we really need?
I know you left town, but the town is still here. We are still here. Still fighting. Loving. Building. We have grief in our chests and hope on our tongues.
Kamala, you are a daughter of Oakland. Will you do right by her sons?