From sadness to strain, distress to drain, for us, these feelings and stresses are supremely real! This has become far too familiar, reminiscent of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis and Sandra Bland. The list is so much longer and these are just the names of those who happen to garner national attention.
Yet, we’re at work again today, trying to muster the strength to stay the course per our job description. Reports are due with no room for extensions, co-workers smile as if nothing is happening, our homes are stressed, our children need more encouragement and our families need therapy and generational healing.
All this and we’ve not even touched on the self-hate, white racism and post-racial discourse that fuel the very problems we deal with daily. Yep, it seems like one big nightmare.
Typical to America’s narrative, more Black bodies gunned down in the streets of America begets this same ol’ insulting retort of blaming us for it all amidst ‘Black on Black Crime’ propaganda. Never mind, Dylan Roof audaciously and arrogantly left one person alive as a living witness to his heinous crime when he brutally killed 9 of us in a church in S.C.
Yet, even he will receive a trial as an alive man. But 13-year-old Tyree King is dead. Gone! Tamir Rice all over again. Terence Crutcher, a father of four, hands raised, yet shot down and left dead in the streets of Tulsa.
After all of the marches, yelling and screaming against systemic racism, police brutality, over-crowded jails, under-performing schools, health disparities and white colleagues and co-workers who refuse to get it, our hearts are left heaviest as we pray our hardest hoping the next time it won’t be our own father, son, daughter, brother or cousin. Heck, even our own selves. Yet, we’re continually explaining why Black Lives and Colin Kaepernick’s protest really do Matter.
My brothers and sisters, it’s imperative that we stand even stronger during these times. Ask yourself first, what do you believe? Who/what do you believe in? This isn’t some feel good article couched in 3-5 reasons on how you can choose to live your best life. Nor is it another piece centered on complaining and explaining. This is about our ancestry that survived slavery. Slavery! Ponder that a bit today.
An ancestry that always believed in us, having no tangible knowledge of us. An ancestry that took on the institution of slavery and won freedoms. Enslaved women who witnessed their own children snatched and sold to even more evil slave masters than their own. Having not the opportunity to breastfeed their own children but forced to do so for their slave masters’ children. Raped and disgraced. Brutalized and criminalized.
Yet it was Harriet Tubman who said, “I freed many slaves and would’ve freed (so) many more had they only known they were slaves.” It was Harriet Ann Jacobs who decided to risk her life for freedom, declaring, “I had a woman’s pride, and a mother’s love for my children; and I resolved that out of the darkness of this hour a brighter dawn should rise from them. My master had power and law on his side; I had determined will. There is might in each.”
Hall of Famer Allen Iverson’s legendary rant to reporters regarding missing basketball practice crystallizes such:
“We sitting in here — I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen: We talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Not a game. We talking about practice. Not a game. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talking about practice, man. I mean how silly is that, we talking about practice.”
America, oh America, borrowing from our game-changing brother A.I. I say:
“We sitting in here – We’re supposed to be a super power, and we in here talking about a song. I mean, listen: We talking about a song. Not what the song fails to live up to. Not the truth regarding why the song was even written. Not the Black lives that were lynched then or those even now. We talking about a song. Not the execution of Rekia Boyd, LaQuan McDonald and the racism that we know to be real, even if we choose denial. Not the country that my own ancestors fought and died for till their last breath. Not the dignity they deserved and the honor they showed America even still. We talking about post-racial, man? A song? I mean how silly is that, we talking about not standing for a song; never mind the fact, we should probably be singing the Negro National Anthem in every stadium since it has more relevant meaning (and truth) for those who actually built America. We talking about some post-racial stuff and a song.”
My beloved brothers and sisters, fret not! Our ancestors proved the power of our collective brilliance and resilience. Oklahoma has a severely traumatizing history of executing Blacks. The race riots of 1921 proves that. But we can’t give up now.
Cry and hurt if you must but now is the time to go deeper, live healthier, pray harder and fight stronger. There’s a Colin and remixed A.I. in you, too. Bigger than #Staywoke, it’s time for us to truly #GetWoke!
Dear America, this isn’t our version of post-racial and it’s truly our time to stand taller in showing you (as we’ve always done) what freedom really looks like beyond the spurious, superfluous suggestions otherwise. We weep for our brothers Terence and Tyree. We’ll fight for their legacy and the oh so many more you deem disposable and unworthy of life.