I’m fucking tired, to be quite honest. And the word tired doesn’t even seem strong enough to adequately describe how I feel.
The Erasure of History
I can recall standing up with my peers and reciting the pledge of allegiance every morning throughout grade school. I can recall the start of sporting events having someone sing the National Anthem. We learned about the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation and other “influential” moments in history that shaped this country. And in these recitals, songs and teachings, we were academically brainwashed by a white curriculum to believe that America was the greatest country. That we were the land of milk and honey. The true standard of living was being an American because of all the opportunities and advancements other countries couldn’t create for their citizens.
“Land of the Free”
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Preamble to The Declaration of Independence
Yet here we are in 2020, two hundred and forty four years after this document was signed and the general disdain for black life and rights in “the land of the free” is prevalent. he abolition of slavery, the erasure of segregation and the amendments to the constitution…we still see the disdain. We see it through the microaggression when white people clutch their purses or lock their doors when we walk by. We see it in the workplace when we are described as articulate or one of the good ones whilst simultaneously asked to style our natural hair in a professional and aesthetically pleasing way. We see it in the education of our black children. We see it in the hardship black businesses have in securing pandemic relief funds. We see it in childbirth, where black mothers are more likely to die than their white counterparts. We see it in healthcare with the medical biases of doctors inserting their prejudices with over the health of black patients. We see it in the harsh sentences of black people when whites have committed heavier or the same crimes–and we see it in everyday activities that result in the death of another unarmed black man, woman or child. Somehow, a group of people comprising barely 13% of the United States population are seen as the biggest threat just from the color of our skin. So perhaps the word I’m looking for here is, enervate: to feel drained of energy or vitality: weakened.
I’m drained of energy because I have to worry about things that white people have the privilege to do freely. Seldom, do I carry a purse into a store otherwise to the loss prevention team who are trained to believe that all black people are thieves, I’m subject to being stopped for shoplifting. I use an umbrella instead of wearing a hoodie to protect myself from the rain otherwise I could be racially profiled. I don’t leave my house without some form of ID so if my body is found, I won’t be tossed aside as Jane Doe left in the street. I pray for the black men in my life more than I pray for myself because I want them to arrive home safely so their children won’t know the pain of being raised without them. I survey an event to determine if it’s a safe space for a black person because more often than not we’re made to feel as if we don’t belong or inherently become the go to person for all thing culturally related.
I’m drained of energy because when the world sees me, they don’t see my education, awards, volunteerism, career or leadership. They don’t see my worldly experiences. They don’t see my talent. They don’t see that I’m a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, godmother, loved one or friend. They see a black person and a threat. And nothing I can ever amount to, do or be in this world would ever save my life when face to face with a racist. Speaking candidly, what I’ve done or accomplished in this world shouldn’t be a prerequisite to racial encounters. The fact that I am human should be the only qualifier to morality and common decency.
I’m drained of energy because I have to constantly have conversations with my nieces and nephews about encountering police. My youngest niece is just over a year old. She’s vibrant and full of personality. There is an unnerving and looming heartache in knowing that inevitably, one day soon she’ll be stripped and robbed of her innocence because black children don’t have the privilege of being sheltered from racism. How do you prepare a child to venture into the world without your protection whilst simultaneously educating them that the world hates them just because of the color of their skin? I hear the pain in their voices when they feel the blunt of racism in everyday situations. Despite being the best providers, leaders and parents from the moment our children are born they are given a cross to bear that we can never take from them. Immediately, they have unnecessary pressure to “better than them” because we don’t have equal playing fields. How do you groom a black child to be a protector when there’s no one to protect them in the presence of white supremacist disguised as law enforcement, teachers, coaches and neighbors? When talking to them about their goals and aspirations, we have to ask them if they know what to do in a racially charged situations so they can have the best chances of coming home rather than become another trending hashtag on Twitter. That’s the value of black life in this country it seems, a fucking hashtag.
I’m drained of energy because I have grieved the loss of hundreds upon hundreds of black people that I have never met. 9-1-1 has become a personal customer service hotline for the theatrical distress of white nuisances pretending to be top flight security. We’ve witnessed families torn apart at the hands of racism. And like clockwork we’ve seen murderer after murderer walk free. Yet we’re still expected to have faith in those obligated to fulfill the law from blue badges to judges. On every side, as a black person in this county we are failed because we refuse sit silently. We refuse to “shuck’n’jive” and refuse to accept that this will always be a way of life.
No Justice, No Peace
I won’t be linking any videos or articles because we’ve witnessed, watched and heard enough black deaths. What the world is seeing unfold these past few weeks in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Minnesota Riots is the straw that broke the camel’s back. You name it, we’ve tried it: complying with police, peaceful protest, voting, rallies, kneeling during the National Anthem, forums, sign petitions, running for public office and not a damn thing has changed. However, criminal white men like Dylan Roof are treated with respect, honor and dignity when being arrested. The key word here is arrested because police encounters for black people are often met with public humiliation and brutality proceeding death. We as a black community are enervated. Enervated because the very people who want to maintain all lives matter, have no respect for ours.
It Ain’t Over Bitch
After the death of Philando Castille, when I was blogging on “The Fat Girls Life” I wrote a piece called “The Second Wind” In that article, I shared the following:
If you’ve ever watched a boxing match or fight, there’s a point where one of the fighters may become visibly tired. Their opponents seem to be gaining on them. Their punches may slow down. Their feet may stumble backwards struggling to maintain balance. They may even miss a few punches. As the clock is winding down, it seems as if the opponent will get the victory. All of sudden, the energy is back. Their energy is renewed. They are focused on the end goal: winning the fight. That’s where we stand as Black Americans. We’re tired but we’ll continue to fight for what’s right. We’ll continue to use our platforms, influence and voices to be the change we want to see in the world. We’ll continue to demand justice. We’ll continue to educate. We will continue to support each other. We will continue to lead by example.
Racism isn’t new, it’s being recorded and televised on the six o’clock news for millions to see. In the midst of a global health pandemic, in which African Americans are at a greater risk of contracting, we’ve had to risks our lives to attend protests about the injustices continually unfolding. While the general sentiment shared in the aforementioned quote is the same, I believe we are far past education and leading by example. Despite the popular Martin Luther King Jr quotes white people use to ease their guilt, much like the scriptures to do the same let us not forget that “peaceful” Martin also said that riots are the voice of the unheard. The same peaceful Martin, they killed by the way. Undoubtedly, property casualties and loss of jobs are unfortunate but if all this shit needs to be burned down before we have accountability and dismantle a system that was never intended to protect black people…let it fucking burn.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted 382 days. The Greensboro Sit-Ins lasted 6 months. The Freedom Rides lasted 7 months. The Birmingham Movement lasted 37 days. Keep your foot on the gas, it’s far from over.