*I normally would tweet these thoughts, but I knew I had to blog this because folks refuse to read your entire TL, instead they want to react off of one tweet. I’m not in the mood to cuss folks out today…so we’re back to blogging, which I needed to do anyway*
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. ” – James Baldwin
This is the state I find myself in. Full of rage, of distrust, of hopelessness. It has only grown over these days and weeks and months and years…festering as I see that I,and people who look like me, are living in a war zone.
I imagine this is the way that my father felt when I was a child. He was a dark-skinned Black man who grew up in Detroit in the 1960’s, in the aftermath of the Detroit riots. He embraced the Black Power and Black is Beautiful movements, and carried them with him as he went to college and began his career. He instilled in his children many things, including love of their Blackness and pride in their heritage, but also the knowledge that America was never meant for them, and they would never be truly free. As a child, I didn’t get it. As a young adult, I began to see. Now as a 32-year-old woman living in very White city, I get it. I understand. And I’m pissed off.
To be Black in America is to be a prisoner of war. You’re stuck in a place that is openly hostile to you, that resents your very presence, and yet cannot function without you. We are the untouchable class, the lowest of the low, the ones that no one else wants to be. And yet we find joy in our lives, and we continue to march on, believing things to be better than they were years ago. That’s just a myth, if anything we’ve slipped back into the post-Reconstruction years, where to be Black was to be a perpetual state of fear, never knowing if today would be the day you’d be lynched or falsely imprisoned.
I’m filled with rage, when everyday I see just how little our lives mean to White people. We’re gunned down in the streets, and people celebrate with “I Can Breath” shirts and blame victims for their deaths. The lack of empathy from White people shows what they think of us – that we deserve what we get, and we deserve less dignity than an animal on the street. The media bombards us with images to reinforce these ideas – we’re good enough to entertain them with our songs & dances, with our athletic skills, but once we’re of no use to them, we mean less than nothing. I know every White person doesn’t believe this, but it’s so extremely hard to detach when assaulted with these images. Each day newspapers and news channels, bloggers and tweeters assert that Black lives mean nothing, that we deserve what we get, and that preserving the lives of White police officers trumps the thousands of Black lives that have been lost. Where are the White voices condemning these people?
Somehow, we’ve decided that police forces are the top of our societal chain, above reproach and discipline. How is it that US soldiers who kill civilians in active war zones can be held responsible for those crimes, while we let police officers who kill US citizens on our soil, unprovoked, go scot-free? How is it that we can condemn the actions of other nations, when we terrorize non-White people in our communities everyday? When was it decided that police officers can be judge, jury & executioner over Black lives?
US: Black & Brown people:: Israel: Palestinians
#BlackLivesMatter. If you don’t get that, you’re part of the problem. If you think this will all go away the minute every Black person wears a suit & tie, never commits an illegal act, has a perfect 2-parent home, has a college degree – you are part of the problem. This isn’t about being respectable so that we’ll no longer be a target – we will always be a target in this country. Since the day the first African slaves landed in America, we have been cast as subhuman, and that view has not changed. No matter how many Black people are elected in government, or lead corporations, or entertain the masses.
We must fight back. Thank you to the protesters in Ferguson, in NYC, in Oakland, in DC, in Atlanta, in Minneapolis and everywhere else. Thank you to the folks who have documented this struggle, who have put their boots on the ground, risked their livelihoods and freedom to capture the struggle. Thank you to those who have lended their voice to the struggle. Thank you to the young folks who have stepped up & said “this is our country, this is our fight & we embrace it”.
Each day for me is a struggle, to live a world so overwhelmingly White & not lash out. To compartmentalize my feelings. To recognize that I cannot not paint all White people with the same broad brush that they use to condemn all Black people. I don’t know what to do, I feel helpless. I worry about my life, about the lives of the people I love. I wish I could do more to help. Please tell me how.
“People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.”
– James Baldwin