Dear America, why are we so awful to our Black community?
My heart is so heavy for the community at Charleston, and all the sick significance that this symbolism holds. I don’t know who says “post-racial era” and actually means it, but regardless of whether this is 2015 or 1965, we have not learned anything.
I’m distraught. I’m frustrated. This year in the US has been particularly awful toward Black people, and I’m not sure if it’s confirmation bias of having an ethnically diverse network of friends propagating news that threatens their selves, or if this is really a season for bigotry and hate. It feels like the latter. There has always been bigotry and hate in the US, but the last few months feel like a scheduled series enacted from state to state, by police department to police department, and now citizen to citizen. Citizen to church, even. I feel like I’ve been mourning every fucking week.
One of many things amazing to me in this less-than-twenty-four hour span, is how there was any doubt that this was a race issue. He purposefully walked into an African Methodist Episcopal church. I had to look up the acronym “AME.” Even in my ignorance, I wouldn’t “wander” into anything with “church” on the sign. He knew where he was going with his birthday gun. I’m agnostic. I can’t even imagine walking into the Quaker church where I vote with a letter opener in my pocket. I felt weird just walking into a Catholic church while touring in Italy. I’m agnostic, but I have respect. (I’m also mentally healthy and have no serious inclinations to wipe out a race of people.)
And yeah, I keep repeating how America (and the world) is full of “hate,” but let’s just cut to the chase: Hate crime is terrorism. Just the term “hate crime” is perpetuating supremacy of a majority group. Let’s call the spade the spade.
This quote by the legally alleged-but-totally obvious gunboy that I can’t pull away from has been particularly interesting to parse. I tried to look up more reliable resources for it, but I’ve seen it written two ways:
“I have to do it. You rape our women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go.”
“I have to do it. You rape your women and you are taking over our country. And you have to go.”
I’m imagining if a White woman were to storm a restaurant while I’m eating brunch with a bunch of girlfriends who look Asian, on a mission of retribution for “my women” taking all of “her men.” Walking into the street in nonthreatening pursuit of my daily rituals with the conscious fear that I could be targeted for my skin, for grouping up with friends of similar complexion, is not being allowed to live. The thought is terrifying. It is pure terror. It is terrorism.
I feel guilt for not keeping up with every update as the media pattern plays out. I feel that unraveling train-wreck inability to ignore the photo of Dylann Roof in the apartheid jacket. I know it was an editor’s decision to select a picture in which Roof looks fucking crazy, but I also agree that it was an excellent choice, because the 21-year old looks fucking crazy. In fact, “crazy” is probably going to be his alibi, just as it was James Eagan Holmes’ – as they both conveniently have the privilege to claim. Who the fuck gives a gun to a kid who looks like that? I know this is a superficial reference, but I’ve seen We Need to Talk About Kevin; I’m not suggesting that family is always to blame for a maniac’s actions, but the perpetrator’s upbringing is always important, whether environment pushed him or the dim bulb of an uncle who bought him a weapon for his birthday did. He was allowed to get to this place.
For all these events that have occurred in the last few months, I have purposefully not dug into every new article, simply because it sends me down this existential spiral of thought that is depressing and hopeless. I’m really enjoying life right now, but that is because I have learned to strategically steel myself when the bad news grows too frequent, and I choose to look at the positivity in my life (of which there is lots). The sad thoughts have not left my head, but I have actively not written them out because there’s too much potential for dwelling. To articulate my every reaction would be exhausting, and there is simply too much to respond to. I also harbor fears about the copycat mentality amongst perpetrators. Every time a new event occurs, I worry that it’s open season. The AME shooting is just another one, and I’m concerned that cheap shots beget cheap shots.
Yet, it is all important. How could I not be moved? How is anyone else not at the end of their emotional rope?
Simply, I have a choice. I am not Black and the US at large does not see me as a person of color. At best I am recognized as an ally or an advocate, but the US’ most prominent race relationship doesn’t visibly concern me. It really is Black and White and has not advanced beyond that to my community. I am not as privileged as a White person, but a random White person tired of the media firestorm on America’s race issues would probably lend me an ear without rolling her eyes more readily than she would a Black person who she writes off as whining about the same ol’ same ol’. I have the privilege of being of a lighter shade and am typically portrayed as a quiet passive creature (which, personally, I am not, but when a simple mind first sees me, that’s the box I get sorted into).
The mind of a person with an untouched, unacknowledged, unexamined ethnic identity (I don’t care who you are or where you live or how much you hate your people’s food, your ethnic identity is an active part of who you are as a whole) so quickly dismisses advocates that I tire of staying engaged knowing that the conversation isn’t being furthered. Not because I don’t care, but because the people who need to hear me just as much as the minorities they outwardly attack don’t listen. Won’t listen. Same thing.
For all that, for all the change I wish to see in the world, for all the example I like to think I can live as proof, I don’t know what to do. I know what could be done, but it is a gargantuan task and completely impossible. Intuitively I know that progress itself is meaningful, but ultimately what I’d like for the world and my future kids is never gonna happen. The dream is futile.
You put me in pain, America. I love living. I love living in California. I was born and raised here, I am a daughter of the millennial version of a free-loving hippie spirit. I know no other life. I believe that individuals are capable of positive change, but I know that the whole is never going to be what I think it could be, despite the knowledge that the ideal in my head could benefit truly everyone. I don’t know where else to go, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want to leave, but you have pushed away your own people time and time again. I would rather repair than run away, but the fix has to start internally, which no person can force upon – or even teach to – another.
What is there to deny? America really does hate its Black people.
Trigger warnings everywhere.
I really have to turn to selectively consume hokey-ness to get through today.