A Performance Dedicated to My Brother, Phillip Watkins

Editor's Note:

After two years since loosing her brother to SJPD police, Allita Watkins created a performance dedicated to her brother, who encouraged her to start dancing. The piece served as an emotional release and has allowed Allita to feel more at peace.

In 2015 Allita Watkin’s brother, Philliip Watkins, was killed by SJPD. He was 23 years old and with a two-year-old daughter at the time.  



After the incident, I wanted to create something that was dedicated to my brother and I decided to do a dance because he was the person that got me into dancing as a hobby when I was younger. Writing the poem was an after thought. I have never choreographed a dance to a poem before, so I decided to try it out.

I performed the piece at an end of the year showcase at my university, for an organization I started in my 2nd year in college. I am the president of Legacies Dance Company, a club that brings awareness to social issues through dance. My main inspiration behind the movements was just the words from the poem. I wanted it to be very natural and coherent with the words that I was saying.

After my performance, I was very emotional and I cried. I think it was because it exemplified all the emotions that I never got a chance to show anyone. It also changed the way that I felt about the whole situation because I got all my emotions out and I successfully preformed a piece that was dedicated for my brother.

I mentally feel more at peace, the performance was beneficial for my mental and emotional well-being. As far as talking about it with other people, I still choose not to talk about it unless it is needed or if someone directly asks. I have always been a private person when it comes to my personal life, so although I am better about openly talking about the situation without getting super emotional, I still choose not to. That is the main reason why I wrote the poem because I would rather have people read the poem and understand exactly how I feel without me having to tell them.

Holding Back

By: Allita Watkins

Are you okay?
No I am not okay.
Yeah I’m fine!

I heard what happened, I’m so sorry for your loss.
You’re not sorry, you just don’t know what else to say.
Thank you, I really appreciate that!

Your brother was a fine man!
You didn’t even know him, but sure.
Yeah he was, thank you!

I’m gonna call this “holding back” because that’s ALL I’ve been doing since the incident.
The reality is… I HATE looking on the news and seeing how this was all some sort of “accident.”
I HATE talking to people about it because they look at me with these BIG sad eyes.
I’m sorry but I don’t want your sympathy only your empathy because your sad eyes will just have me spill out more cries.
I know this isn’t your fault, and I shouldn’t be so angry
But I miss him, like a lot.
It’s just hard to face the reality that my brother left us sooner than I thought.
I hold back because I don’t want to offend anybody.
I hold back because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable.
I hold back because I know nothing will change.
But you know what? I’m tired of holding back.
It’s time y’all know how I feel; it’s time y’all know my pain.

February 11th, 2015.
I felt my heart RIP when I got that phone call.
Apparently I was screaming, but all I remembered was silence.
I remember having to lie on the floor because I suddenly felt unbalanced.
Emotions were going in and out and in and out of my body.
I walked into class with the STENCH of sorrow and it didn’t help that I was tardy.
All I knew was at this point I felt ALONE, even if my friends were all around.
I put a smile on my face to let everyone know that I okay,
But in reality… everyday I wanted to breakdown.
I should have spoken up. I should have let people know when I wasn’t okay.
But how was I supposed to do that without ruining everyone’s day.

Fast forward to a year later.
I’m feeling a LITTLE better.

It just ALWAYS sucks to have him in my dreams and wake up to realize that it was just a dream.
I want to call you.
I want to laugh with you.
I want to vent to you.
But I can’t do that and my mood just goes downstream.
This is the time where my wounds are still fresh.
When I feel it coming I would lock my door and cry because I figured at this point people can care less.

Fast forward to today, two years later.
I still hold back and I’m not sure why.
Maybe because I think my time has expired to just sit and cry.
I hold back even more now because I think two years is too long to grieve heavy.
I hold back even more now because I feel like my tears should have dried up by now.
I hold back even more now because I just don’t want to go back to replaying that sad medley.
Even more reason why I wrote this poem.
I want you to know that sometimes I feel down.
I want you to know that I am not always okay.
I want you ALL to know that if my smile looks a little off one day, I am probably hiding a frown.

I am trying not to hold back anymore.
My life is never going to be the same and I’m starting to accept reality.
It will just take some time, so please be patient with me while I am dealing with my brothers’ fatality.


Allita Walker is 21 years old and studying Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. She plans to open her own dance studio and a non-profit organization that helps children, young adults, and the unhoused in low-income communities access healthy food.  

Related Media:
Healing Invisible Wounds Retreat
One Year Later, Phillip Watkins Deserved to Live
Public Defenders Join Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones To Police Violence at San Jose #FreedomNow Action




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