Hey friends, I was going to post today. Then I saw m-joseph-s posted this. So, ditto to this and I’ll see you again in the morning!
So much has happened in the past few weeks. McKinney.
Kalief Browder. The events that transpired in Charleston. I’m at
an impasse with what to do next. I find myself constantly worrying for my
friends and my family. My sleep is starting to suffer. I have a friend with
whom I’m closer than anyone else in my life and I woke him up about two nights
ago at 3AM because I was scared. I told him I didn’t exactly know what I was
afraid of because I didn’t have the words at the time but I have the words now.
I was, and am, afraid of white supremacy.
I want to be clear. I don’t fear white people. I fear the
things they are capable of because of systemic racism. I fear being in the
40% of black people that make up the prison population, despite black people
being 13% of the population of the United States. An event transpired in
recent memory that still sits in my mind. I was on the phone outside the
administrative office where I am a student assistant and a police officer rode
by on a bike. This officer stared me down for maybe the 15 feet coming up to me
and, when he passed me, turned his head completely behind him while riding his
bike, not even looking where he was going, just so he could stare me down. All
I was doing was standing there talking on my cellphone in a public space (my
school has an open campus). That officer didn’t know anything about me but from
the look in his eye, I could tell that he found my presence “suspicious” or
whatever word you want to use.
I don’t fear white people. I fear for the self-esteem of
young little black children having to go to public schools in white suburbs who
grow up being told that they “act white” because their interests are not
stereotypically black or because they are “articulate” (read: do not
communicate primarily in AAVE).
I don’t fear white people. I fear the fact that there are
people like the Charleston shooter can hold nothing but a vitriolic, visceral,
primal hatred for an entire race of people and take that far enough as to shoot
9 people in a church, during their Bible study. Then, the last thing we want to
call this shooter is a terrorist or a racist when this is race-based
terrorism. I may not be religious but that could have just as easily been me,
my mother or brother or sister or sister in law or either of my nephews or my
father. And that thought is terrifying. And that is the purpose of terrorism.
To instill fear and terror.
I don’t fear white people. I fear that when the McKinney
pool incident happened and a 14 year old black girl was manhandled by a cop,
people chimed in with “She should have just complied with orders” instead of
asking why a cop was using excessive force on a black girl less than half his
age and probably 100 pounds soaking wet, with a brick in each pocket, on a full
stomach. I fear the fact that before the news of the Charleston shooting was
even mainstream, people were defending the shooter with claims of mental
illness. I fear that the number of white people who started to care only did so
because John Stewart did an opening monologue without a joke. I fear the
fact white people can look at events like this and be completely removed from
it whereas I see events like this and I am removed from it because I am
becoming desensitized to it. When my community hurts, I hurt with it. I
shouldn’t have to distance myself mentally to survive. I shouldn’t have to
distance myself mentally so I can get some sleep at night.
I don’t fear white people. I fear people who defend the
Confederate flag by claiming it’s about heritage, as if that heritage is not
one based in the subjugation and perceived inferiority of an entire group of
people based on race. I fear them because they are unable, or unwilling, to
recognize the fact that if states’ rights had prevailed, I’d be somewhere in
Texas or Missouri or Alabama picking cotton. Or maybe I wouldn’t even be alive,
and I’m not sure which is better.
I fear that people are constantly trying to deflect this
issue as an attack on Christianity or use the Confederate flag as a scapegoat.
Do not be fooled. He didn’t do this because of a flag. He did this because he
is a racist and a terrorist. While I am glad this flag is seemingly coming down,
we cannot forget that the reason this flag is coming down is because 9 black
people are dead because they were black. This flag did not kill them but the
ideas and beliefs represented by this flag are what killed them.
I don’t fear white people. I fear that this flag will come
down and white supremacy will remain. This one flag will come down but the Mississippi
state flag will remain as is, high schools will still have the “Rebel” as
their mascot, and people will still fly it at their
homes, in their college dorm rooms, and on their cars. They will still wear it
on their shirts and they will still get it
tattooed on their bodies. The flag may come down but the attitudes will persist.
I do not fear white people. I fear that for too long,
blackness has been synonymous with resiliency thus disallowing us agency
meaning when we have to endure tragedy after tragedy, we are not allowed to
hurt, we are not allowed to cry, and we are not allowed to be angry. We must
swiftly forgive the transgression and prepare ourselves for the process to
start again. To allow us time to grieve, heal, and maybe even hold a grudge
would ascribe to us the one thing white supremacy cannot afford us to have:
humanity. And I fear that this cycle is in the process of resetting now that
“we got what we want” (the removal of the flag) when we want much more than
that. We want our voting rights protected, we want to stop being incarcerated,
we want to stop being targeted by racist police practices, and we want to stop
being killed. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, but, maybe it is.
I do not fear white people. I fear white supremacy.