Black Lives Matter: The Social Hobby
This letter is from a disheartened, stressed, calloused human who can no longer bear the weight of a dominant culture that unknowingly and subconsciously subdues me—even the “good white folks.” I have seen at first hand how many of you have taken our plight and transformed it into a “to-do” list for your consciences. If I am one of your “black friends,” consider that the case no longer. The same goes for apathetic, non-action-oriented, scary-ass blacks!
THIS IS NOT A HOBBY,
YOU WILL GET NO PROPS
NO HIGH FIVES
NO LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
NO MEDALS …
only real strife.
I don’t need you.
You don’t need me.
We need each other for what we can do.
Are you at least doing that?!
FORGIVENESS: Please forgive me for this outpouring of emotion, frankness, and expression. I have come to a moment of clarity and distress within the context of interaction and dealings with white humans in the realms of social justice progression and, moreover, the Black Lives Matter movement. I have created, been involved in, or the subject of a lot of dialogue in the past few months, some warranted and some not. I am calloused to words, actions, and ideological feelings and frameworks that don’t advance the plight of the underserved. I do not mean to alienate, call out, or make anyone feel negative about this letter. This happens to be the typed-out, honest dialogue that I have with myself on a daily basis—it is what has boiled to the surface in the past week.
OUTRAGE: Before the tagline Black Lives Matter, I have a 20-year recorded history of anger, outrage, demos, writings, events, mentorships, projects, and progressive frameworks to offset the harsh realities of a many-fronted systematic warfare that seeks to exterminate my being as well as that of anyone who looks like me. I didn’t wake up with this feeling yesterday … it burns within the makeup of my cells. I grew up in foster homes, and my first foster parents were a white couple that looked after me in some ways, but did a horrible disservice to me in many other ways. As they offered their home, attention, and resources to help me, they also unwittingly imparted ideals and principles of “white thinking” that I have not been able to shake or disengage from to this very day. White people taught me in school. They gave me shots. I pay them rent. I work for them. I smile at them. I serve them. I dance a jig for them. I feign interest in their ability to be boundless and resourceful. I have raised their children. I cannot avoid being uncomfortable about having less for reasons known and unknown. Most of all, I currently feel unsettled more than I ever have because of the impunity in which they mask their guilt or flaunt their privileges—without being able to understand either with any depth. I cannot hide this anymore and I don’t wish for my friends or associates to be uncomfortable, any more than I am uncomfortable about being a man … even at those times when I detest being one.
WHITE LINEAR THINKING: White men control the world and white women run it. Plain and simple. The fact that white women receive over 70% of all affirmative action money is befuddling and cruel to me. If some concept doesn’t remain within a boundary whites feel it should … it risks never being accepted—rather, it gets discredited. How do whites feel blacks should support them in their causes? What causes have we not supported? In what ways have we not been involved and committed to them as they continue to maintain the arbitrary power they wield?
THE LOCAL BACKLASH: I am a man. I am a father. I am a teacher. I am a mentor. I am a black person that feels passionately. I am no local hero. I am no folktale. I feel fear and apprehension; however, in the spirit of those who will never again see the light of day in this realm, I continue to resist. I am in need of no applause or recognition. I am a person—like many past and yet to come—who wants to play the small part that I can, every waking second of my life, to reverse the plight of my people and others. I will never receive a trophy or certificate for this, nor do I wish to. I am so completely ashamed of the many known white faces and names in Ypsilanti that have had this grand stage to voice true support for the Black Lives Matter movement, yet have failed miserably—unless in a comfortable group setting. This makes me cringe.
THE REAL: At this hour I am facing real charges, real jail time, real fines, real backlash, real intimidation from police and others, real drama, the abandonment of real friends, not to mention real social and professional pressures based on my political views and social stances. For me, this movement is much more than a Facebook comment or a retweet or a soft, half-hearted “when I can afford to make time” form of support. I am not whining or complaining; however, as sure as Sandra Bland was alive … now she is not. That’s how fast it happens. Real lives are constantly at stake here. Real people are lost. Real souls are no longer in the physical.
COMFORTS: When whites get uncomfortable, things happen. Shall I sit and wait to see how comfortable you are willing to remain, until something befalls you? You are scared to break a law; you are especially scared to break the chains of injustice. You are fucking kidding yourselves.
RESPONSIBILITY: Which truly means: the ability to respond. Many people wish to sidestep this, or merely post a comment from afar. What is your responsibility outside of your group, outside of Facebook, in your home discussions, in your secret fist bumps or reluctant, silent support?
ACCOUNTABILITY: Who has the fortitude to take an accounting of what is happening on his or her watch? Who has the ability to take a physical, moral, ethical inventory of what is needed, what they have, what they are willing to part with, and for the sake of whom? When business owners, politicians, councilpersons, or the well-off demand anything in this city, how can they be denied? Whites have gained most of what they have clamored for. White heritage prevails.
TRUE SUPPORT: If it is not genuine and from the spirit of the people … please keep it for yourself. I don’t want pity. I don’t want conversation pieces. Most of all: I don’t want a single white person doing anything for me that they believe won’t get done without them. I can’t breathe. White supremacy has me.
A weary soul—