The issue is that on a day like today after a night like last night I don’t have the energy to fully keep my anger at bay. And at any point I’m liable to let someone saying the wrong thing know exactly what’s on my mind. That’s the secret doc, I’m always angry.
My thoughts on Ferguson are, first and foremost, my own. I do not want to pretend I speak for the masses even when in some instances what I say will resonate with many. They are also not indicative of hatred towards all white people. I do not hate anyone, truly. My anger is systemic, it exists in the consciousness, it is directed at something less tangible than Whiteness.
I was heartbroken. I remain heartbroken. My first thought watching it unfold was “They’re going to burn that city down.” I thought of the African proverb Zachary shares in AD, “If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.” Second I thought, “I don’t know if I could have a Black son right now, or ever.” What would I say to him? How could I offer him solace? I wanted to punch a wall because so many did not have to think of that. Note here, I know many people who are not black took the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue with their families but the thing about privilege? It means you don’t have to. It is a survival tactic for the Black family. To develop the senses necessary to avoid racially charged encounters. Twice as good, half as much.
My next thought was that I wondered what my parents were discussing. My white father and my black mother. I had the thought that if I were with anyone but a black man my son’s racial identity may not be black. And I wondered if that were okay with me? It should be. I wondered if I would swaddle myself with loyalty to black men left cold on a doorstep considering many do not share the ideal. And I wondered if in a time like right now it wasn’t worth it to believe in them so fully, so absolutely because of not me, who?
I tried to discern whether it was good or bad that I lived in one of the whitest major cities in America. Most people don’t know what’s happening in Ferguson. Those that do don’t talk about it, especially not with the angry Black woman. Nick was the only person to text. Rox was the only person to call. It doesn’t indicate a lack of awareness, or empathy or anything from other friends. Maybe everyone was dealing with it in their own way. I considered the safety in ignorance and the comfort in being too uncomfortable to bring it up. It felt like wool on my skin. I ached for Atlanta. I wanted it to be on the tips of tongues and at the knuckles of fists. I’m tired of being polite, I’d rather be real.
I said a prayer for my Black professors. Because for all the posts and statues some people had preaching peace and how education was our ticket out of oppression and these unjust types of circumstances, I know for a fact that your title does not exempt you. That racism exists in the American psyche and that consciousness knows nothing of class. It looks a little different though, admittedly. “Safe” in my single|student role where I could be radical and not have it affect my families livelihood.
I saw a few of my non-Black friends posting about it too. Thoughtful messages, not all about peace. And as an aside, not that I disagree with peace but I do believe many would agree that the peace being called for to the oppressed is improbable right now. People are angry. They are hurt. They feel threatened and unsafe. They worry for their children and for the future. They worry that a dangerous precedent long ago set continues to be true in our nation, that a white man can kill a black child/man and get away with it. So asking me to calm down is irrational. Begging for peace is, well it doesn’t feel like you’re asking for peace it feels like you’re asking for silence. To stop feeling uncomfortable in your skin. To shrink the shame off your back with the soothing sounds of so-called peaceful protests singing We Shall Overcome to keep you warm. I’m sorry, I can’t share in the beckoning for peace right now. Peace is a privilege of the safe. We can be civil. We can not harm one another. We can respect one another’s human rights, but right now it won’t be peaceful. It’s a time of unrest. Because I think so many people are truly sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I can’t remember ever feeling so affected by something in the Black community. Perhaps it is the season I’m in in my life. The flashing parallels of Our America and The Hunger Games’ Pan Am was disturbing. President Obama as Peeta Mellark. Were Michael and Trayvon our Rue? Who or what is our mocking jay?
Within me, beneath the current anger and beneath the knowing that in my everyday life I am relatively safe from malicious intent, lies the me that feels it’s all conditional. That’s the me who is terrified right now. Because she wonders under what conditions would My life be a justifiable means to an end. And if in the moment would we pretend it was only about what we could see touch and measure. Ignoring centuries of history. The education of the vilification of dark skin is present and reinforced constantly in our world. We don’t even know why we think wide flat noses are ugly, or why a svelte thin body is beautiful. That’s what scares me. The seed was planted so deeply I wonder is it able to be extricated? I wonder how many generations will ask my questions. Invariably the same ones my great grandparents asked with different words.