I woke up this morning with a heavy heart, reminded of the recent violence – no matter how hard I tried to distract myself as I got ready for the day. I listened to Kirk Franklin’s My World Needs You as I prepared to leave the safe and comfortable confines of my home. I listened to that song on repeat on my way to work, just thinking about how much change this world really does need. I sat in my car and tried to mentally prepare myself to put on a happy face and just do my job. As I walked toward the building, I saw one of the white supervisors. He didn’t speak to or acknowledge me (which I thought was odd, because he’s usually good about that). I thought to myself, “don’t take it personally…” As I kept walking, I realized he was also walking to the entrance. I thought, “Surely he’ll hold the door open for me. He saw me walking toward him, and I KNOW he sees me in the reflection of the door’s window.” I also thought, “If he doesn’t hold the door open for me, he’s being racist.”
- He didn’t hold the door open for me. In fact, it practically slammed in my face.
- I immediately thought, “you racist mf.”
- Then I reminded myself, “Not everything is going to be racist today. But you may be primed to see it that way because of what’s been going on. It’ll be alright.”
I walked in the building and pretended to be undisturbed by recent events, the perceived-racism, and my desire to just be at home curled up on my papasan. I knew that my first client would inevitably have a lot to say about the murders, and I was right. It took prayer as I sat with him to hold back my tears of anger, sadness, and frustration – and truly be present in that moment.
This stuff is hard, y’all. It’s terrible, gruesome, unfair, triggering, maddening…and so much more. I want to be able to have conversations with people about all of this, but too many of my “friends” want to post pictures of cats, videos of recipes, and pictures of themselves drinking or basking in the sun. I seriously contemplated deleting my already VERY limited number of facebook friends, to ensure that the only people who saw my posts were the ones who are woke. I didn’t do that, though. I hope that I do make them uncomfortable by what I posted, or that they choose to unfriend me. I’ve posted about it before when I quoted Martin Luther King’s words, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
For too long, Black folks have been unheard, even when they scream their loudest. The pain is simultaneously dull, sharp, and ever-present. The silence of our “friends” is deafening. It’s really making me consider some of my life choices up to this point. I’ve been living my life as fully as I’ve been able to this year, which is a huge privilege. But the company I’ve kept out of respectability politics????? That is not living fully. Feeling like I have to keep certain people around because I might need them in the professional world at some point down the line, or because we’re in school together and it’s the socially acceptable thing to do.
Right now, I’m saying fuck that. If you’re not having these important conversations about antiracism and how we all can do better, I don’t want you in my life. This is an act of self-care, too. Audre Lorde said it best,
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.
You may be a nice person, but nice is not enough to cut it. I need you to be passionate about whatever you like AND antiracism. If you’re not, it’s like you’re subtly telling me that my life isn’t that important to you…that the lives of people whose skin color resembles mine doesn’t actually matter.
Is that your truth? I don’t know and I’m not gonna waste my precious time tryna find out. It is not my responsibility as a marginalized and oppressed person to educate you on the ways in which people like me are oppressed. You can most definitely miss me with that.
*takes deep breath*
But to end on a positive note, a friend of mine posted this video – someone who cares about the mental health of all who are affected by these heinous acts. It brought some much-needed joy to my day. I hope it does the same for you.