And tomorrow, I’m going to protest again.
This is not because I believe protests in themselves are functional ways to create change. This is not because I enjoy stopping people from going about their way and ignoring the plight of others. (Ok that last one is a lie.) I protested for a simple, simple reason: I am angry. And I desperately needed to be around other people who care.
The reason for my anger, too, is simple. I cannot for the life of me fathom how human beings can be so filled with hate. I don’t know why we are so comfortable with murder, and why we insist on living as though we are isolated creatures, as opposed to the group animals we are. I’m not angry because of my melanin content. I’m angry because I am a human being. When will people understand this?
At what point did we lose our humanity? How do we get it back?
I could write about Mike Brown. I could write about Eric Garner. I could write about Tamir Rice. I could write about Reefa. Emmett still. Rodney King. But as I told my friend who first suggested I channel my rage after the Mike Brown no indictment verdict into a blog: I. Am. Tired.
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile then you’ll know why. I’ve written about Troy Davis, whose case was the first one to spark my fire. I also wrote about Trayvon Martin, whose case was the first one to make me realise there might still be a serious race issue in the U.S.
But I never wanted my blog to turn into any kind of black power, all I see is black and white, all white people are racist kind of platform. Truth be told, I still don’t. But the reality of these situations is that to ignore the blatant and systematic disenfranchisement of black people in America would be to tell all of those who have been profiled that their struggle is imagined. It would be to tell the family of Mike Brown or Eric Garner that their loved ones died by the hands of the law because they were horrific people not worthy of tolerance or rehabilitation.
And that? I cannot do.
I get it though. I really do. I used to be that person who thought black Americans screamed “racism” too often. I used to be that person who said, “not everything is about race”, and “slavery was ages ago, why can’t they get over it.” When I moved here I certainly thought that black Americans had no room to complain about how they are perceived because of the image they portray to other races. Then, I woke up. I realised just how well I had fallen into the same brainwash that keeps people of all races far away from their humanity, yet fully able to sleep well every night.
The change in me, I think it happened over night. And this is in large part due to social media. (Love-hate relationship.) But the thing I’d really like to get across the most about why I think race plays such an important role in this country is not based entirely upon the facts of the cases. It is based, almost wholly, on the reaction and subsequent comments I’ve seen from my peers, and the treatment of the cases by the media.
The comments I’ve seen about Mike Brown, detailing how much of a thug/monster he was, and how deserving he was of death have left me speechless. None of us was there to witness the events, except those who were presented to the grand jury (most of whom have corroborated each other’s version of what happened, which is an entirely different account from that of the police officer). Yet the things I have seen and read coming mostly from white people, and only white people, have reminded me just how far we have to go as humans. They have so much passion and confidence in their disregard for human life at the hands of a purposefully manipulated and stereotypical character assassination that it blows my mind. And the problem I have with stereotypes isn’t that they are untrue. It is that they tell only one side of the story, and pass it off as the only side.
Have you ever heard a white person or the media call a white person a thug? Have you ever heard them call a white person who may, or may not, have committed a crime a demonic criminal? Has a white person ever been called a terrorist? Has a white European ever been labelled an immigrant? Is this because we don’t have Germans, Italians, Russians migrating to the U.S? Is it because white people do not commit crimes? Why are these derogatory words reserved only for people of colour to assume? Why is it that black men are automatically seen as threats? Why are black men so feared? What have black people taken from white people? What have we done to them as a race that causes so much hatred?
Historically, I shouldn’t even need to point out the fact, not opinion, that almost every single racial genocide or evil act (rape, kidnapping, slavery, displacement) committed against a people has been committed by white Europeans. Yet somehow, it has come to be seen that black people are the threat. Somehow black men have taken the character plunge here. How? How did that happen? And why?
If you look at it from a broad view, the answer would be simple. Africa is the richest piece of land on Earth. And in the never-ending battle for natural resources, it’s clear that the winner will be the one who conquers it. So yes, countries have been in the business of stealing Africa from Africans since the beginning of time (and of course systematically portraying them as uncivilised and impoverished land grazers to make it OK.) But what about the black Americans? Whites own the wealth in the U.S. For every $2 a white family makes, a black family makes $1, a ratio that has been the same for 30 years. This is not propaganda or a divisory statement to incite more hate. This is a fact.
Black people didn’t do this to themselves. Black people. Did not. Do this. To. Themselves. It is very important that we remember this.
Black Americans have been stripped of their cultures and identities and placed into ghettos, where they’ve been given drugs and guns and virtually no other resources. The system did this. The system put black Americans into the situations they’re in. The system made them live in ghettos, while their other racial counterparts were given an opportunity to live in areas where they don’t have to wake up every day and see people struggle, and sometimes die, trying to put food on the table. (Remember how horrific it was when white people were placed into ghettos in Germany? By other whites too? Yeah. Only then was it horrific. And it is still being written about, compassionately, 70 years later by the way. In fact, France just agreed to pay $60 million retribution to those displaced by the Holocoast–via CNN.) This is not a mistake. Slavery may have been long ago, but segregation wasn’t. People still have living relatives with the scars from whips on their backs. Segregation was only one generation removed from now. We are not talking about something that happened B.C., yet white people won’t even talk about it, much less show compassion. It is off limits, except for when it can bring in money at the theatre. (I won’t even get into why people support an industry that continues to capitalise on repeatedly showing us one of the most atrocious things in human history.)
Black people do not own gun factories or have any stake at all in the ammunition industry. They do not own laboratories or companies that create drugs like cocaine and heroine or pharmaceutical companies that profit from drugs. Black people did not bring either of these industries to the United States. More importantly, the history of the black race does not begin with slavery.
Blacks were kings and queens in Africa before other races pillaged the land to rob them of their riches. The queen’s jewels that are so proudly on display in England were all stolen from African people. Black people were never interested in crossing borders to see what else was out there, let alone exterminate entire races of people. And why would they need to? They had everything they needed in life right where they were until the invaders came and told them they weren’t doing it right.
Why is this important? Because I feel like people, all races alike including blacks, have been so accustomed to black people (and when I say black people, I mean all persons of colour) being at the bottom of the totem pole and not worthy of being seen as simply human beings worthy of respect and tolerance that we forget why they are there in the first place. We forget that it is not for lack of intellectual ability or talent. We forget that it is a systematic, centuries-old issue that cannot be overcome as a whole by two or three “exceptional” black people who were able to overcome their economic situation and become a lawyer or a doctor or the president.
Exceptions are just that: exceptions. And until we see that a chance to become “successful” and seen as an “upstanding citizen” shouldn’t be an exception at all, we as a human race will never see a change. Until we realise that the disparage is real and not imagined, even if we have never personally experienced its effects, we can never begin to live as one. Until we can have open, constructive dialogue between races that isn’t laced with hate-filled stereotypical undertones, then we cannot move forward as people.
And that’s the biggest part I think most people are missing. Black Americans aren’t asking for special treatment or pity or even revenge. They just want us all to be able to talk about it, come up with solutions, so we can all move forward in solidarity and overcome the hate that was given to us by prior generations. That’s it.
But if we can’t even agree that a problem exists … That something, anything, needs to happen to change this world for the better, to replace the conscious and subconscious hatred/distaste and facilitated divisional constructs, then how can we ever expect it to?