If you know me, or want to know anything about me, it’s that I write out my feelings. I thought I had gotten over this particular quirk of mine, as I hadn’t done it for nearly four years. However I found out last spring, when I had an overly dramatic reaction to an impending breakup that was really symptomatic of other chaoses in my life, that was not at all the case. I missed writing. So when my emotions felt out of sync this past semester I started this blog, and they fell back into align. Occasionally, the urge to write would strike me, and I would do it on a whim. That, more than anything else, explains the silence over the past couple of weeks – I was in my comfort zone, I was content, and so there was nothing of importance to write about.
Last night, despite the hundreds of people dead in the Middle East, the dozens killed in my hometown this weekend, and the two men killed by police this weekend, I didn’t feel the need to write. I went to bed, and the world was business as usual. Another series of black men killed by police. Another outpouring of posts expressing rage (#blacklivesmatter), anger (I’m tired of doing this), dissent (#AllLivesMatter.) Another list of people who I could give virtual cookies to, and another list of people who I would have to watch (thankfully, that was normally because they said nothing, rather than something awful. The awful people had been blocked two hundred shootings ago.)
It was normal. Pokemon Go just came out, so I distracted myself from the thoughts that I would have to block out certain cities from my job hunt, that I would have to leave the country to be safe, about how I could morally condone having kids. I celebrated being “published”. I bemoaned the lack of wi-fi in my room. Yesterday, everything was normal.
Then this morning came. This morning with its news story of not one, not two, but four cops shot dead at a Black Lives Matter rally. And I felt my blood run cold. Clearly there is something the matter with me, because it wasn’t those two men whose stories I overlooked because they were all too common (132 this year) that made me pause. Those stories no longer resonated with me, despite being forced skin kin. Yet, the five police officers who were shot down made me afraid.
And maybe I am sick, because I wasn’t worried for their lives – I was worried for ours. Those murdered men didn’t make me reflect on my blackness more than normal, but those murdered cops did. They brought me back to that mandated “ours” which comes with being a part of the black community in America, like a bastardized version of the royal “we.” That role that we are forced into, that I fought against, rebelled against, ran from, and then was forced to accept… just like every other black person in his country (Because even if you’re in a Benz, you’re still a n***** in a coupe. – Kanye)
After all, those police officers were part of a privileged group. Privileged not only in their race, but in the sense that although only 1% of their group, if Chicago is to be held as an example, commits crimes (theft of property and of life) they would be lauded. Their deaths would not be questioned – they were martyrs, heroes, plain and simple. I do not have that luxury. I am a part of the tainted group. The batch of soup that could be delicious but the single hair causes the entire pot to be thrown out.
So for the first six hours of my day, I had a silent chant going on in the back of my head, like a perversion of that episode of blackish.
Family: Please don’t be black.
Family: Please don’t be black.
Reporter: …White male.
Daughter: Wait a minute. Eight people got shot.
Family: Yes, that is — Well, that’s — that’s a damn shame. That’s a tragedy. But we didn’t do it!
Because if the shooter were black, what would they do to us? How many men and women were going to lose their property, sense of safety, or lives because police were going to retaliate under the guise of the law? Or citizens, while the cops looked the other way? How many civil liberties are going to be “overturned” in the name of safety for cops? After all now they can search whoever they please illegally, and if they happen upon something they are in the right. All because one person couldn’t contain themselves.
So I found myself whispering. Please don’t be one of us. I started coming up with crazy theories. Please be a white supremacist group trying to start a race war. Please be a disgruntled former army officer trying to take down people who wouldn’t let him be a cop due to his mental instability. Please be Anonymous. Aliens. Terrorists. Just please, please, don’t be a group of black men and women who just got fed up. It’s not worth it to fight back in that way. It’s not worth it to lash out.
And isn’t that the thought process of a person in an abusive relationship? Please don’t make this any worse. It’s fine the way it is going now. Isn’t marching enough. Isn’t this enough. Just don’t give them ammo to fight back with, all while knowing they were going to beat you anyway.
And I know it’s not enough. Don’t misunderstand me – I am not condoning violence. But how can two hundred years of legal slavery, and a hundred and fifty years of societally condoned second class citizenship be enough? When there is a body count that stretches back four hundred years? When there are tensions that have never been properly alleviated?
But you have to hope that this isn’t the thing that makes the world explode. That this isn’t the thing that incites a massacre, or a war. Because there’s only so much swallowing people can do.
Swallow down the dead. Alton Sterling. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Keith Childress. Bettie Jones. Kevin Matthews. Leroy Browning. Roy Nelson. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castile…
Swallow down the insensitivity. The constant posting of videos of brown bodies jerking with bullets like some sort of sadistic snuff silm. Donald Trump being allowed to run for president. That one guy on your facebook page saying the above people, whether armed to the teeth or holding a cell phone, deserved to die. A member of congress threatening the sitting President of the United States.
Swallow down the microaggressions. The “oh you speak well”s and the “Wow what sport do you play to get there”s. The “Your hair is unprofessional” and “Just dress/act/be respectful”s.
Swallow it down. Swallow it down. Swallow it down. Swallow it down.
He was black.