"The rules that would have you contort your body..."
"This need to be always on guard was an unmeasured expenditure of energy, the slow siphoning of the essence. It contributed to the fast breakdown of our bodies. So I feared not just the violence of this world but the rules designed to protect you from it, the rules that would have you contort your body to address the block, and contort again to be taken seriously by colleagues, and contort again so as not give the police a reason."
Coates connects the casual cumulative energy expended in being Black to the eventual breakdown of our bodies- “breakdown of our bodies” meaning the lack of energy and resources to truly care for ourselves. At times, the best we can muster is the immediate self-preservation of the body, but never a long lasting solution.