Tea & Honey & Chocolate & Tulips & Bicycles & Buses & Beaches & Afros & Windows & Dogs & Tofu & Family & Money & Not needing money & Hammocks & Africa & Chicago & Love & allthingsgood.

Life should be colorful.

The front door to our school bears an insignia:

“Through this portal, awaits your future”

Chicago has been lying to its children.

Your future, Hadiya, had barely begun

before you were gunned down in cold blood.

In our city, futures should not be spoken of.

False hope should not be indoctrinated.

Instead of futures that will never come, they should tell students the truth:

You are more likely than not

to be shot, or killed

(or to know someone who

gets shot, or killed)

before you turn 18

(but more likely by 16)

Yes, you will be 16 or 18 when you realize

That you have been lied to.

Prepare for it.

It’s easier that way.

And when your friends die, cry about it. Tweet about it. But you have to get over it soon because another one is coming before you know it.

(Don’t worry, it gets easier by the third or fourth time)

Instead of visiting colleges, start visiting funeral homes.

Buy black in bulk. You’ll need it.

Hadiya, I was one year older than you when I saw the first of my friends

get gunned down.

Similar to you, he was killed after school.

He was on a CTA bus home.

You, a bus shelter.

He was near his school

and you, sweet angel, you were near ours.

I told myself I’d never go to another teenage funeral.

I wish that I had been wrong.

Hadiya, we may never know who took you from us

But your death will not be in vain

We will not be quiet about this.

Armed guards won’t help this crisis.

I never met you, little sister.

But I will carry your name with me

as I carry Blair’s

and Trayvon’s.

I will remember your name on days when I’m tired of fighting

But little sister, sweet dear angel,

I wish so badly that I didn’t have to.

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