I hate your disbelief.
I hate when you say “it’s 2016, things like this shouldn’t happen,” as if 50 years of people maybe considering you human is enough to erase 400 years of being erased. I hate when you say that “this is proof that society has really gone downhill,” as if things like this haven’t happened in this country since before the advent of slavery. I hate when you say that “these horrible incidents are such a troubling thing to witness,” as if you understand what it’s like to watch live footage of yourself being murdered every day.
I hate that you “can’t believe” that black people are being murdered in the streets. I hate that you are just pitifully “sad” that black people are being murdered in the streets. I hate that you have to tell me that you can’t believe that black people are being murdered in the streets and that you are sad that there is nothing you or I can do about black people being murdered in the streets.
I hate that instead of being able to mourn, instead of being able to process trauma and fear and grief, I have to scroll through my social media and see people fighting about some aspect of race relations or the merit of police or whether or not this or that should be allowed or circulated or demonized or condemned or acquitted or convicted, all the while forgetting, or refusing to acknowledge, that we are being murdered.
I hate that to conservatives I am nothing. I hate that to liberals I am nothing- but the source of their white guilt while simultaneously being an unflinching voice of reason and insight. I hate that I have to defend and console and explain and justify before I am allowed to be angry. I hate that even after I have done all of those things, I am not allowed to be angry. I hate that even after I have done all of those things, I do not know what to say.
I can talk forever about education, healthcare, and housing segregation, income inequalities, environmental injustice, about microaggressions and why you should never ever touch my hair. I can talk about all of the systems and institutions that perpetuate the legacy and practice of colonialism, slavery, and segregation. But every time we are mercilessly targeted, brutalized, and killed my insides dry up. All I feel is a gripping panic and fear, my heart pounding in my chest and my stomach cramped and nauseous all at the same time, no space in my body for any words to do the feeling justice, to do my thoughts justice. To give justice to the sibling whose life was just taken. Because in the eyes of the nation we live in, we are less than human.
And I am so deeply sorry that I never feel like I can find the right words or enough words for the people whose lives were taken. I am sorry for feeling guilty that I upset my white friends by not wanting to talk with them about another purposeful murder or about the trauma we endure. I am sorry that I police my tone and my words and my tears in order to be strong, to appear unfazed, to not make anyone else uncomfortable. I am sorry that I am not stronger and I am sorry that I do not allow myself to be weak. I am sorry for forgetting that my purpose in this fight for liberation and justice is in my words and for forgetting that my words matter.
I am sorry for forgetting that I matter.
This is a long, hard, bloody fight that has taken and will take many, many, many generations of suffering to begin to actually see change that would remove the fear from being alive while black. But in the meanwhile, I’ve realized that I need to say everything that needs to be said, everything that I’m not even sure I can say, no matter how obvious it may be.
I mourn for every person who is murdered by the police, I mourn for every black person who is murdered by the police.
I mourn for the 136 black people shot by police in 2016, so far.
I mourn for Alton Sterling.
I mourn for Philando Castile.
I am disgusted by our police forces, by our politicians, and by the people in the United States who are silent.
I am disgusted by your false indignation and by your lack of conviction to act.
I will not engage in discussions about whether or not you agree with the idea of black lives mattering, or whether or not you support Black Lives Matter.
I will not engage in discussions about police with white people. Well meaning or not.
Conversations are important, but when you’ve been screaming in anguish for nearly 600 years and you’re still having the same ones, I know you’re just in the conversation for show.
Furthermore, I am not your mule. The burden of performing, educating, and protecting disproportionately falls very heavily to the black woman. I am not your mule. Google it.
I do not care if you think believing in or fighting for liberation, equality, and justice for black lives is radical.
I wholeheartedly support all protests that are taking place in the name of Black Lives Matter.
I wholeheartedly support all of my black peers writing, protesting, and speaking on what has happened and what will happen.
To my non-black peers: I have seen you silent, I see you continuing to be silent. I have seen you speak, I see you continuing to speak. I see all of those using their privilege the right ways and who continue to show that they believe my life, black lives matter. Regardless of which category you fall into, here is a pretty comprehensive and invaluable resource for educating yourself. Which is, arguably, the most important part in helping one another out, and in doing this work.
To my black peers: Process this how you need to-reach out, take a break, write it out, scream it out, cry, post, run it out. I am here if you need me.
Here is a petition to create a federal agency in charge of overseeing local law enforcement, in order to help create accountability.
A thread of things you should be doing to be informed about and reform your local police force.
And because of my deep belief that words, written or read, have the power to help along healing- “poems to read when the world is too much.”
Elegy by Aracelis Girmay
What to do with this knowledge
that our living is not guaranteed?
Perhaps one day you touch the young branch
of something beautiful. & it grows & grows
despite your birthdays & the death certificate,
& it one day shades the heads of something beautiful
or makes itself useful to the nest. Walk out
of your house, then, believing in this.
Nothing else matters.
Keep going. Love. Black Lives Matter.