“I had one,” Mike announced.
“Me too!” Kenny cried, dapping him up.
“Again?” Harry chuckled. “This is ridiculous.”
“Nah bro. You just jealous.”
“I had another one too,” Jasmine announced.
“Join the club!” Kenny gave her a hi-five.
“Wow,” Mary grinned. “Three deja vus. That’s a new record for us.”
“What was yours?” Mike asked Kenny.
“I was watching highlights of Kobe and I just felt like I’d seen them before.”
“Plot twist,” Harry announced. “You have seen them before. It’s Kobe.”
“You know what I mean, man.”
“And yours?” Mike asked Jasmine.
“I heard some guys talking about their favorite boxers,” she explained. “And someone said Floyd Mayweather.”
“Yeah,” Kenny nodded. “My boy is pretty nice wit it.”
“What was yours?” Jasmine asked Mike.
Mike was already at the whiteboard, rewriting everything from yesterday and now today. He finished writing FLOYD MAYWEATHER then turned to the group and said, “I saw Kaepernick’s knee.”
Harry rolled his eyes.
“You mean when he was kneeling?” Jasmine asked.
“Yeah,” Mike nodded, turning back around to write it. “But it was weird. It only happened when I looked at his knee. Like, it wasn’t like I had seen the picture before, but like I’d seen that knee before.” He wrote KAEPERNICK’S KNEE next to KOBE’S HIGHLIGHTS and FLOYD MAYWEATHER.
“Oh boy,” Jasmine breathed a heavy sigh as she sank back in her seat. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I don’t wanna have to go through any more stupid racism.”
“Trust me,” Harry said. “I don’t wanna see any more stupidity either.”
“Really?” Jasmine tilted her head in that way that Mike recognized as the tell tale sign a black woman was ready for someone to say something ignorant. “And exactly what stupidity are you referring to?”
Harry didn’t miss a beat and pointed at the whiteboard. “The kneeling.”
“What about it?”
“I just don’t think a football game is the best time to protest.”
“Then when is the best time, Harry?”
“At a protest!”
“Of course,” Mary rolled her eyes. “Because white people have done a really great job of listening when black people protest. They can’t do it without getting called angry thugs or being told that they’re overreacting. So they have to come up with more creative ways to get our attention and what better way than the great American pastime of football?”
“Exactly!” Jasmine agreed. “Harry, have you even been to a Black Lives Matter protest?
“No,” he scoffed. “Because all lives matter.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Jasmine threw her hands in the air.
Mike and Kenny exchanged a this-dude-is-crazy look.
“You’re missing the point, Harry,” Mary said.
“What point?” Harry asked. “I just stated a fact.”
“We know all lives matter, but black lives are the ones who are being targeted right now.”
“Not true!” Harry leaned forward and leveled his finger at her. “Cops kill white kids all the time. In 2017, 149 unarmed people got killed by police. 49 of those people were black. 51 of them were white.”
“So why you ain’t protesting then?” Jasmine spat back.
“Not only that,” Mary cut back in. “But black people only say “black lives matter” after someone dies. So you saying “all lives matter” when that happens…” She paused and made a mockingly sweet face at him. “…isn’t the best time.”
Harry didn’t respond and the room was filled with an awkward silence.
Then Kenny broke in with a freestyle.
“Ey yo check it. All lives matter. But black lives are gettin’ splattered. While white lives’ pockets are the ones that keep gettin’ fatter. Eyyyy! Bars!”
Harry shook his head. “Listen. I’m not trying to be the bad guy. All I’m saying is that when you focus so much on black people getting killed, you’re ignoring all the cops that get killed. Last year 106 officers died in the line of fire. 7 of them were black. 46 of them were white. Blue lives matter too.”
“Yo,” Kenny made a face like he’d just smelled a bag of poop. “What is it with you?
Mike pointed back at the whiteboard. “Can we just get back to the assignment?”
“No,” Harry waved him off. “I wanna hear you guys. When you say “black lives matter”, that’s implying that you don’t care about cops getting killed.”
“That’s not true,” Jasmine answered. “You can stand up for black lives and not hate the police.”
“So why don’t you ever protest when a black guy kills a white cop?”
No one responded for a second and Jasmine and Kenny cleared their throats.
“Listen,” Mary spoke up. “My Dad’s a cop. And he’s one of the good ones. But I still support Black Lives Matter.” She paused for a moment before moving on. “I know the stats of cops dying and that’s why I’m terrified of losing him every time he goes on patrol. But when he suited up and swore to protect and serve, he knew that he could die on the job. Because possibly getting killed is part of the cop experience. It shouldn’t be part of the black experience. Period.”
Harry made a face. “But see…”
Kenny slapped the table. “Bro, what else could you have to say after that?”
“I get it,” Harry raised his hands in surrender. “Cops shouldn’t be killing unarmed black people. But aren’t you ignoring the fact that more black people get killed by other black people than they do by white cops? Why don’t you guys ever talk about black on black crime?”
Another silence. But this one was different than the first one.
“See?” Harry said triumphantly. “You just wanna play the victim card so you don’t have to take responsibility for your own problems.”
“Let me tell you something,” Jasmine said in an even tone.
“Take him to school, Jaz!” Kenny cheered.
“You don’t hear us talk about black on black crime because you don’t live in black communities. If you did, you would know that we talk about it a lot. At every school, in every barber shop, in every hair salon, at every church, at every funeral for a boy who gets shot by a rival gang. We have whole community service organizations, fraternities, and youth groups set up specifically to reduce the black on black crime rate. But we don’t tell you that because it’s none of your business. You don’t tell me about your problems at home so why would we tell you about ours? And another thing: we bust our butt to get guns and drugs off our streets, but who do you think put them there in the first place? So don’t tell me that we don’t take responsibility for our problems when we’re trying to end a war that y’all started.”
A third silence filled the room thicker than any of the others that came before it.
“On that note….” Mike said. “Let’s get back to business. The three new deja vu’s are Kobe’s highlights, Kaepernick’s knee, and Floyd Mayweather. Any thoughts?”
“Maybe Kobe’s gonna come out of retirement,” Kenny tried.
Mike shook his head. “I don’t think so. My theory is that the deja vu’s are God’s way of warning us about bad things about to happen. Hence, you getting a black eye. Kobe coming out of retirement wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.”
Mary rested her chin on her palm as she stared at the whiteboard. “So what bad thing would happen in 2020 between Floyd Mayweather, Kaepernick and Kobe?”
Jasmine raised a finger. “What if Kaeprnick is from Minnesota and–”
“He’s from Wisconsin,” Harry shut her down.
Jasmine lowered her finger. “I guess that’s the end of that theory…”
“I know!” Kenny shouted, clapping his hands together. “Kobe and Kaepernick have a one-on-one and Kobe crosses up Kaeprnick so bad he falls on his knees and it becomes a whole other meme!”
Mike pinched the bridge of his nose. “How is that bad enough for God to warn us about?”
“Bro! That’s embarrassing! Kaeprnick’s career would be over.”
“It’s already over.” Mike sighed and took a few seconds to recover from the stupidity. “Kobe, Kaepernick, and Floyd Mayweather. What do they all have in common?”
Kenny tried again. “They all start with the letter K.”
”Kenny,” Mike whispered in disbelief.
“They’re all athletes,” Jasmine said.
“Right,” Mike pointed at her.
“They’re also all black,” Mary added.
“So maybe something bad really is gonna happen to black people,” Jasmine wondered.
Harry raised his hand.
Jasmine took a deep breath. “If you say something ignorant again I will slap you.”
“I just speak facts,” Harry shrugged. “And I just want to point out that every one of you who had these deja vu’s is also black.”
“Subconscious? Again? Maybe you’re projecting your own experiences as black individuals onto these deja vus.”
Kenny sucked his teeth. “He do got a point.”
Mike shook his head. “But we’re not all athletes. Why would all of us independently have deja vu’s about black athletes? It’d be one thing if Kenny had had all of those. But Jasmine and I don’t even play sports.”
“Correction,” Jasmine interjected. “I played tennis in high school.”
“Okay. But the point is the same. All of us had deja vu’s about black athletes independent of one another. That must be because something bad is gonna happen to black athletes in 2020.”
Harry’s alarm went off on his phone and he stretched his arms then stood up. “It’s that time again. Next class is the 20th, Mike. You got one more week. If this doesn’t get less ridiculous and time-wasting, we drop this.”
“I know,” Mike replied.
“If it’s all the same to you,” Harry tipped an imaginary hat to the rest of the group. “I’ll see you on Wednesday.” With that, he left.
But to his surprise, when they met again, there were more deja vu’s than ever before.