Friday, July 8, 2016

Let Us Live

Artist: Unknown
Today I am mentally exhausted. I have been drafting this blog post since May and I fear how much more will need to be added to it if I continue to write any longer. My Blackness continues to weigh heavily on me. It is a glorious gift that I would NOT trade for anything in this world however, at times living in an America in which Donald Trump becomes the republican presidential nominee, it often feels like a sentence to perpetual despair. With the first two not guilty verdicts in the Freddie Gray trials, the images of a girl with rope burns around her neck after being invited to a "slumber party", tasteless tweets by the Baltimore Police Department following the SECOND not guilty verdict in the Freddie Gray trial, the most recent police execution of Alton Serling, and before I could even grief for one brother Philando Castile is murdered next--in front of his baby. There are countless other stories of Black people being wrongfully convicted and/or spending decades in jail while white men guilty of similar or lesser crimes get lesser sentences or are allowed to roam free. I am reminded far too often lately about how hard Black life can be.

There are so many childless mothers and fathers and fatherless children for no reason other than being Black or making a mistake while Black. Since when are we allowed to KILL for a mistake---whenever there is in fact one that has been made? I think about myself and so many of my Howard University educated friends and no matter how many degrees or promotions we earn, no matter how many houses we buy, happy hours or brunches we attend, in spite of the fact that we pay our taxes and mind our own business, we still have yet to reap the benefit of merely being able to exist without the possibly of being gunned down for nothing more than living while Black. We cannot wear a sign that says I have a PhD or that I am just trying to get home safely to cook dinner for my family. My body literally tenses when I see police car or police lights flash behind me even if they are just passing me by. I fear the police more than any "gangster or drug dealer" I have ever encountered in the Black community.

Credit: Awesomelyluvvie
In 2016, Blackness has been displayed in so many glorious ways. We have seen Black Girls Got The Juice and the vivacious curves of beautiful Black woman being celebrated. We have witnessed President Obama and the First Lady continue to lead with class and slay for Black families all over this country. We have seen awesome musical performances laced with Blackness and Black pride. We have drank the sweet tea of Beyonce's Lemonade. We have seen Harriet Tubman become the face of the twenty dollar bill and this fall, we will behold the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in our nations capitol. What a time to be Black in this country.

However, despite all triumphs of our people and the privileges that are no longer alluding some of us, we continue to find our people at the end of a police officers gun. This has left me bewildered. I love Black people and so many proclaim to love us. Yet as we continue to see numerous white murderers walk free and even try to make a profit off of our extinguished lives, I am disheartened.

I hurt for my son who will eventually have to navigate even more realms than me as a Black man in America. Eventually his cuteness will fade and he will be another Black man that people will fear and try to tear down. No amount of good manners and following the rules can protect him. He will never be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms or make the same mistakes as his white friends. I remember praying for him to be "light skinned" when I was pregnant with him in an attempt to protect him from at least some of the many of the injustices targeted towards our Black men. But that of course could save him. Teaching him to be respectful, feeding him organic foods, and making sure he does well in school cannot save him. I want to instill in him the ability to be free-thinking, assertive, and kind. Why can't that be enough for my Black boy? Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy but as a Black mother, I think over and over about how I just want my child to remain ALIVE. A simple yet complex request in the America we live in today. 
Artist: Debra Cartwright
I hate that Alton Serling's son will see his beloved father's murder on the internet repeatedly. Why do we have to record our injustices in order to be believed? I hate that no justice will most likely come to the Sterling family. I hate that other police officers won't stand up and say that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Where are the white people that cheer us on and enjoy our performances? Where are the White people who use our exceptional skills to make their businesses thrive? Are they waiting for my son to be next? Or maybe one of my other friends sons? I don't want my baby to become a hashtag or a viral video. What about Philando Castile's daughter and girlfriend? Who will support the mental turmoil that they will now face because some police officer missed the day in police academy where he swore to protect and serve.

How can we change this? I have been educated in the halls of Howard University and stood in the shadows as a student of many greats yet sometimes I feel helpless. Everything else seems trivial when my people are being hunted. I don't want to see an ad for what you are selling. I don't want to see you telling us all the ways our brother could have avoided death. If I did not have God in my life, I would live in a crippling fear. I kick myself everyday that I get in a rush and cannot pray over those I love before we head out of the door. Only God can give us the strength that we need to live in times such as these. I will continue to do the work on the ground working to help build strong Black communities and to empower Black families. That is how I will fight this fight.

All in all though, I just desperately want my baby boy to be able to grow up.