I didn’t have any intentions on blogging about Ferguson namely because the last thing I wanted to do was to appear as if I’m appealing to current events in some “attempt to be relevant,” as if I’m trying to win some Internet popularity contest. The fact is many people are writing about Ferguson and racism in America. And quite frankly I’m tired.
I’m tired of being told what to feel. I’m tired of being told what I feel isn’t valid. I’m tired of White people trying to tell me what racism is and isn’t. And quite frankly I’m tired of trying to explain, to no avail, why they don’t get to define this conversation. It’s disheartening and it’s exhausting and it’s tempting to give up.
This past week a friend of mine posted a blog about how we, as Black people, should just leave America. Initially I wanted to respond reminding him of the good that’s worth fighting for. Then I remembered that for the past year and a half I’ve been living in the Caribbean and, to be honest, in times like these I’m reminded why I left the United States. Though we built it, I’m not sure there’s a place for us there.
Growing up, I was often told by my friends I was the nicest Black person they’d ever met. In fact, between my aptitude for school, my niceness, and my musical tastes, it was almost like I wasn’t Black at all. I didn’t live in the ghetto; my parents were still married; and I attended private school for most of my education. Of course now I see all kinds of issues with these statements. But at that point I thought nothing of it. In fact I prided myself in it.
Then at fourteen, I watched as a Hispanic girl I liked was called from the other side of the cafeteria by her mother, who was less than excited at the prospect of her daughter being romantically involved with the “same kind of people” that impregnated and abandoned her older sister. Her mother proceeded to pull her from the cafeteria to their car by the ear.
Then at sixteen I was stopped by a White police officer in a predominately White neighborhood. Apparently, he received a call about a Black man roaming the streets with a gun. After being pulled from the venue (I was watching my friend’s band perform) to get frisked, the cop was surprised to find a cellphone in a leather case. He may have been embarrassed but I was humiliated because my White friends who witnessed this happen didn’t say or do anything. It was then I realized no matter how special people made me sound to the rest of America I was just another Black man living in a country where someone could ignore the command to leave you alone, kill you when things don’t go their way, and be found innocent just in time for people to decide your dead body makes for a good Halloween costume (all while claiming to not have the facts). Sometimes I think we use the complexity of issues as an excuse to be silent, overlooking the fact that silence is also a decision. Tell me talking about race doesn’t unite us and I’ll tell you neither does the absurdity of supposed “colorblindness.”
This week has reminded me that we often resort to violence when we are unable to articulate our frustration or when it fails to convince; and I’ve come to realize this situation takes much more than explanations. It takes Jesus; and I pray he comes quickly.
To those wondering: Yes, I know racism is more than Black and White. It’s been my long held belief that if anyone deserves to be mad it’s the Native Americans, who not only had their land stolen from them but were beaten down so badly we had to create special places for them to recuperate while we celebrated the man who put them there.
To those tired of hearing about Ferguson: I’m just tired of it happening.
To my friends/heroes/mentors (especially White ones) who’ve spoken up about this issue: You have given me more hope and strength than you will ever know. Thank you for being equally enraged, if not more so.