By Kai M. Green, BYP100 California

Originally posted on theSwagspot.


Marissa Alexander

Dear Marissa,

Triggers. Triggers. You pulled the trigger to save your own life. You fired shots up to the heavens and the ground you stood upon wouldn’t hold you. The court, these laws unable to recognize you and the justice you do deserve. But I will fight for you. I will write for you. I am with you.

Triggers. I know what it means. See it was just the other day, the day before Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Just outside my old house. We heard a couple yelling. She had been cheating on him. He held her phone and I imagine he was going over the evidence. I imagine it hurt. He wanted control.  She wanted her phone back, but he didn’t want to give it to her. He owed her money. She wanted her stuff. He was angry. He wanted control.

Triggers. We looked outside, but there were no bodies, only voices. We couldn’t tell where they were coming from so we went back inside.

Triggers. I can’t BELIEVE you punched me in my mouth!

Triggers. We made eye contact in the house—what do we do? We don’t want to call the cops. We don’t want to call the cops. We know what the cops do—

Triggers. We look outside. The screaming voices become visible Black bodies. He is short and hulking, chest out, handsome, jeans hugging. She is taller, pretty brown, eyes too hot for tears, hair short, shines fresh, a beautiful smile she possessed. And I know because I had seen her before. But now mouth blood filled, she spat and screamed back. How you gon’ do me like that?

Triggers. Her eyes met his. She backed away. He said he was sorry. She still couldn’t believe. He said he’d pay her the money he owed. She still couldn’t believe. She said she was calling the cops. He begged now. He already had two strikes. She threatened and declared, phone in hand, you going to jail today! And he asked about their daughter. He pleaded; don’t take me away from my daughter. She held the phone up, but never hit send. The phone was her weapon held up to the heavens, but she didn’t pull.

Triggers. We were on the porch now. We witnessed. And what do you do? I asked if they were okay. My eyes met hers then. I knew they weren’t. I knew it was a dumb question. He chased her around my car, from sidewalk to street and across the front lawn. He caught her. He grabbed her. I yelled, Hey! Hey!  She knew we were watching. He knew we were watching. He backed off. She came forward and with her two fingers struck him between the eyes. Just leave! I yelled.

Triggers. He backed away. Walked back to his car and that’s when I saw the other her. She was in her mother’s car. She watched. She was angry. Black baby girl. I watched her watch him. She gave him a look. She cut her eyes and stuck her tongue out. Neither of them looked at her. He got into his car and almost hit the woman as he drove off. She quickly hoped in her car, pushing baby girl to the passenger seat. She sped away.

Triggers. I was triggered. I prayed for that woman. I prayed for that man. I prayed for that baby. I cried for that baby. I was that baby. Protesting the abuse of a father on a mother.

Triggers. Shock. Frozen. I went back. Watch. Witness. War. In home. Home? In war. Protest. Still I feel weak. Small.

Triggers. Baby girl’s eyes met mine and I was reminded. One night. One night. I was 9. I was 11. I was—Baby girl’s anger. He had returned after having been gone for so long. 3 weeks. 4 weeks. Mom called. Maybe he had gotten locked up. She was stressed. She was mom. I was stressed. Maybe he was dead. I hoped for prison. I prayed for prison. At least then we’d know he was somewhere. Alive. We could write, at least. But in his absence I wrote letters to the wind. Waiting for a response.

Triggers. A pounding. A knock resounding. The door. Praise God. Daddy’s home. I didn’t feel that way. I was angry. Don’t let him in. Mom.Praise God. Anyway. But why? He came back mad. It was as if my prayer to the wind had snatched him. But he didn’t want to be back…It was crack. Mom don’t break. Mom don’t bend.

Triggers. She let him in. He was different this time. Unapologetic. He came in like this was his house. But this was my house. No, this was my mom’s house and I would protect her. She was silent. I wanted her to fight. She was silent. They were both in bed. He turned off the light. Mom didn’t like the lights off. This was her house. He took the remote control and changed the channel. Cowboy. Action. Mom liked game shows and sitcoms. She looked blue. He looked red. Silent. I watched. This is my house. This is my mom’s house.

Triggers. I went down stairs and I grabbed a knife. Mom couldn’t do it. I thought I could take this man’s life. Power. I would take it by force. I stood in the doorway. Television glared through the darkness. I held the knife up so he could see. I HATE YOU! I declared.

Mom. Mom. I am here—don’t be scared.

Triggers. He got out the bed. Took my knife. Made me feel weak. You little B—, just like your mother!  He left. I cried. Alone. Mom lay in the dark room, still. I recovered the knife and put it under my pillow. If he returned—


What is justice, Marissa? I believe you should be free. I believe that the relationship we have to the state is an abusive one. We are not protected. We are not loved. We are policed. We are told fighting for our own lives is criminal.

We are forced to take it. Take it. Take it. And we do. But sometimes we talk back. We boil over. And the blood coming from our busted lips pour out onto the concrete. For some, those stains are our only tears. We fight. We are told to be quiet. We are forced to live with these contradictions.


What is justice Marissa? I don’t believe in trapping people in cages. I believe in freedom. I still feel guilty that the prayer I prayed for my father was prison. Trapped. I want to be free. I want to see you free.

Complicated. When that mother held that phone and threatened to call the cops, but didn’t. When I held that knife and imagined killing my father, but didn’t. When you shot bullets in the air and not in his chest. When the only option is 911, but you know they will not protect. Serve your time. Punishment. Your crime? Saving your own Black life. What justice look like?  What justice look like? A poem. A wish. A hope. I share my freedom dream with you, Marissa.


A little Black girl dreams

In poems to her mother

And she answers back

I love you.


A little Black girl dreams

In prayers to her father

And he answers back

I love you, too.
A little Black girl dreams

In songs to herself

And she answers back

Sweetest thing I’ve ever known

Black love, my freedom

Done carried us home.


In solidarity and with love,

Your Brother Kai