My language is broken into a slang,
But it’s just a dialect that I select when I hang
– Edward K. Archer
It is difficult to imagine a white person feeling the same anxiety a Black person feels when we are involuntarily thrust into a situation where trumpets constantly blare the racist notes of olde – but in present day arrangements.
It carries a tune that is harmful to more than just our ears, for within it lies the conscience of a feigned supremacy. Like Elvis trying to sing Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.
It is a fascination that in a twisted, delirious way evokes a self-concocted reality that only exists in the minds of the unlearned. But we all know there’s only one David Ruffin.
The unenviable (I say this facetiously) and unforgiving (I say this earnestly) situation I reference is our skin color; our features. Black. Beautiful. Exquisite. Regal. There is no harm in being birthed with such a winsome hue but harm, rather, in what comes along with possessing our distinctive attributes.
The experiences of the wronged are always diminished in the eyes of their oppressors and those who side with the oppressor. According to their reality, there has never been a Black person who has been murdered by an oppressor who didn’t deserve it.
A justification of this takes form well before the plantation; before our names were stamped with a stained moniker that was not our own and assigned to our ancestors dispersed across the Americas and the Carribean.
It stretches into and past a Civil War all the way to the fight for civil rights. It spans to as many variations of a newly formed and carried out Jim Crow as one can imagine. That connection is not lost on me. It has always been there. Maybe it wasn’t always recognizable in my youthful innocence but it has always been present.
Our Black bodies are one word or act away from harm. From death. I know and understand this. My experiences have assured me of this. The world we momentarily occupy continues to assure me of this. My attempt to convey the depth of such a realization may never be fully understood. But that is ok. I don’t fully expect it to be. After all, expectations don’t always leave one fulfilled.
The streaming red blood of my Black people in streets, on apartment walkways, outside of convenience stores, in parks, in cars, and in jails is a part of our country’s bloodstream. It is indeed a prerequisite for a more advanced course – an instruction teaching that our Black bodies are nothing if they are not abused.
The curriculum’s opening chapter focuses on the killing of our bodies and how those killings must become commonplace to the point of callousness. It is with this approach that indifference serves its purpose. The viewing of a dead Black body is oftentimes due to the way the live Black body is viewed.
Last week, Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice Stallard were killed in a Kroger grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky. In April of this year, two black men, Alize Ramon Smith and Jarron Keonte Moreland of Moore, Oklahoma, were lynched by four white people.
Deliberately making our struggle invisible is part of white supremacy’s strategem.
The laws we live by have been constructed upon disdain for our lives. That contempt was borne of fear. That fear was birthed by the existence of white privilege, a privilege protected at all costs and emboldened by a fear that it might one day be gone. Hate bolstered by fear is still hate. That strain of hate is historical; documented, describing events that are real and not imagined. It is quite a bit to process for whites who have never felt the sting of discrimination or injustice to come to grips with why we fight.
I have often said that I wished I didn’t have to write on these subjects. I would gladly trade it for a scenario where white supremacy does not exist or drive the narrative. But I have no choice but to write. This I also understand. Writing truly is a form of fighting. I won’t shy from it but I also won’t try to convince anyone of these certainties who are not receptive to change and understanding. It is easy to gauge the depth of their waters. Others more patient than I with more time than I who are willing to put forth that type of effort have my utmost respect and support.
All of this equates to a country that has never been a respite nor a home for Black people. Instead, it is a safe haven for those who are adept at the transfer of blame. When one utters the nonsensical phrase “Black-on-Black crime” as a point of debate, they are, in essence, transferring blame from their social iniquities and the iniquities of those who came before them to the person whose blood has a story deeper than whatever occurrence claimed their life.
As if their white sins have nothing to do with Black death. As if redlining did not play a role in the formation of ghettos, their construction, their purpose, and their intent. As if their fathers and their father’s fathers didn’t deny loans to financially qualified Black fathers that would have helped them make a better life for their families. As if policies structured upon our demise were not imagined, made into legislation, and carried out. As if mass incarceration of our people is not happening as we speak. Or educational, health and economic disparities don’t abound.
As if the blood of Black victims is solely the consequence of Black rage.
To employ that vicious phraseology in such a way is an attempt to absolve themselves of any blame and to deny our nation’s past and present objectives – because it’s always been about their comfort. It’s a type of comfort that I have never experienced. I will never have it made.
This is the world we live in. Back and forths that form never ending circles. But even though I expect much of it, I do not have to accept any of it. It is my hope that you won’t, either.