Standing on a BART train surrounded by children who look like children I might have some day, little boys with their heads shaved close, little girls with hair in braids, tiny plastic bird barrettes clamped at the ends. I'm refreshing my smart phone as I travel back to Oakland on this BART train under the bay, looking to see what our lives are worth to those twelve people sitting on that jury at the other end of the state, where other juries have decided in the past, that our lives are, simply, not worth much.
But my smart phone isn't so smart, and instead I smile at the children surrounding me who are acting like children: climbing over their seats, climbing over each other, voices raised in the sparkling cacophony that happy children are known for. They are on their way home from a long day of field-tripping with young white teachers who look exhausted and protective when a middle-aged white man in a suit presses past the children with his briefcase clutched to his chest and his face a mask of annoyance. I wonder if he sees these children as children, or if he sees these children as a drain on the system, or a shitty way to end his work day, or living, breathing bull's eyes. What do the other people around me see when they look at these little boys, smelling like little boys, full of energy and excitement, eyes full of sun as we come above ground in West Oakland?
I refresh my phone again and know what our lives are worth, know that the twelve on that jury decided these children are little bull's eyes. I want to hold them all close to me, spread these arms about them, protect them from those who will involuntarily pull out their guns and slaughter them for being little boys, for being little boys full of energy, for being children who look like children I might have some day.