Your Brothers Look Like Bodyguards

By Juliana Lamy (Harvard College Undergraduate)

“Your brothers look like bodyguards.” 

I found my new roommate’s comment about my older siblings hilarious on move-in day in its absurdity, wildly amusing because I knew how ridiculous my brothers could be, how goofy, how annoying, how far from grave their demeanors stood. So in the following days I relayed the joke to my friends over bland pasta in the dining hall, repeated it to them in their rooms and mine, and laughed with them over it while I remained baffled at the perception. But on election night I could finally see it, I mean really see it.

My brothers are two large black men, the oldest one with arm tattoos and a full beard.

They could not be more different. One is taller. One is a picky eater while the other will (literally) inhale anything edible in sight. One has a more outlandish sense of humor. But to many of the people that voted our new president (I can only type it, as I will never say it) into power, black men are nondescript, all deserving of hatred in light of that sameness.

This will not be another analytical piece. Quite frankly, I don’t have the political wherewithal to adequately comment on the things that are projected to happen in terms of policy. But I know how many times I’ve wanted to scream since the results of this race have been confirmed, how much I’ve wanted to hit things, how many people I’ve held and been held by while we stood together on the brink of a harrowing, bleak future. I know what the faces of my Muslim friends looked like this morning when we all woke up and realized that everything that could have possibly gone wrong went worse. I know that some of my closest friends are people of color within the LGBTQ+ community and I am worried about their physical safety and their mental well-being, that multiple aspects of the people that they are and the people that they have come to identify as are in very real danger. I know that my Mexican brothers and sisters are in tears. I know that I am a female and that I am black and that I am an immigrant and that I am hated by so much more of this country than I previously thought.

And I know that as I watched those numbers come in, as I watched the confirmation of what I had not known, had only suspected for a very long time, that America remained racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, islamophobic, hateful, in my mind I saw my brothers threatened, harassed. I saw a repeat of the time when an officer tackled one of them to the ground and cuffed him without preamble only to realize minutes later that he had confused him with someone else, only this time, my brother does not come home rightfully angered but unharmed, indignant but unhurt.

Two of the most important people in my life, and now I fear for theirs.