I really don’t know what more I can say about the interminable parade of black deaths administered by socially and state sanctioned institutions. It’s been years of commentary, and calls to action, and trying both compassionately and furiously to get people to think and behave differently where their relationship with the broader concept of blacknsss is concerned, as well as in how they conduct their relationships with the black people in their lives.
Make no mistake, more often than not, even well intended allies do a very bad job in even simply socializing with black people.
How many allies out there post online about how these deaths are wrong but haven’t had a heartfelt conversation with their black “friends” in recent memory? How many times do we see people speaking out online only to perpetuate the same gatekeeping, withholding, surveillance, contempt, suspicion and fetishizarion of black people in the spaces of their own lives—only to justify that behavior as somehow different?
I don’t think of myself as anything but myself—a multifaceted self that contains multitudes and which does not have to be legible to hegemonic eyes to be worthy of life. I do not consent to be defined as a single being. I am sometimes a teacher. I am a business practitioner. I am a communicator, thinker and strategist par excellence. I am a fully realized human being, a lover, and a friend. I am a black person, and, perhaps only somewhat less than all of that, I am tired—because there is so much work to be done, and so few reliable footholds toward restorative justice.
I can’t help but think that it’s no coincidental that the first time I’ve enjoyed true peace in my life in years was when most everybody had to stay home. Suddenly, my energy wasn’t being exhausted by fielding carelessness and microaggressions and managing my mood, behavior and responses in a way that could be palatable to others—because I knew from a short lifetime of experience (and still know) that I could not trust others to do the same.
I know what needs to change. I know what is wrong. I know where the weight falls and what my role in carrying it is. I’ve told you. Many of us have. So, having done that in the tradition of my forebears and knowing that those who walk this earth after I do will walk a similar path, I just don’t know what else to say to anyone about any of this.
What I do know is that this is either work that is done compassionately, collaboratively and honestly as a society, and in the individual spaces of our lives—or it is a failure whose consequences grow worse with the passage of each day.