Blessed & Burdened, Being Black in White Spaces..

We live in a world that thinks the least about the black man. They are disliked, beaten, imprisoned, under-appreciated and murdered, repeatedly. There is no justice for him. There is only war. From the time he enters this world until the time he leaves he is told that he does not matter, that he is not needed, is not necessary and has nothing to offer this world. I don’t know which is more disgusting: the lies, or the people who believe them. This war on the Black man is supported by everyone who believes that the black man is a threat. Everyone who believes that he is ignorant, unworthy, incapable, irresponsible, angry, criminal and unproductive. The color of your skin has been a determinant of your ability to many. I write this letter to let you know, I see you. I love you. I prefer you. I need you. You are blessed, and too, burdened.

I am not denying that you upset me, disappoint me, hurt me, or make things hard sometimes, but I am not in support of those things determining your fate. I am not at ease knowing that a traffic stop, highly influenced, many times by the thought that you are transporting drugs, can more than likely lead to your death and or injury than that of a white man. I am not in support of you being gunned down because of your alternative ways to make a living. I am not satisfied with you being beaten unconscious because of your culturally exclusive ideals. I do not agree with you being gunned down because you look suspicious, or resist arrest. This war would’ve ended long ago if it were you killing the white mans seed. It would be a non-existent war if it were you claiming self-defense in the deaths of unarmed white men and women. If you were to go as far as to bruise a white woman while in police custody, this war would have ended, a long time ago.

But see us. . . you and I, we don’t matter to the people who ought to care. The color of our skin is a one way ticket to irreconcilable differences. They are not asking why we are being killed, they don’t care, they only answer, stating that we kill one another. They are not reprimanding those who are doing the killing, and in some cases they do, especially when it is another man of color. They’re justifying our deaths by the mistakes we made in the past. And when our mistakes aren’t on record, they create their own. If I were to die in the fight with you, beside you, they’d neglect to mention that I am a studying PhD student at an elite West Coast University, and skip to the fact that I’m a single, unwed, teenage mother. They’d skip straight to the part about me fighting in high school, neglecting to mention that I graduated with a 4.0 gpa, a number of full-ride scholarships and as senior class president. They will use a photo of me, dressed to party with girlfriends over my Master’s graduation photograph. And they will not cover a single story about my community advocacy. I will be portrayed as a problem. One that needed getting rid of. And they do the same thing to you.

They want to rob us of our voice. They want to infect our mental. They want to kill our spirit and void our communities of love. We are not who they say we are. It is time for you and I to show them that.

I don’t want you to go on a killing spree, because that only further justifies why they gun us down in the first place. They feel they have something to fear, and we don’t get to be fearful because in their eyes, we are the enemy. When they walk by, we don’t get to pull our son’s closer, shield our daughters and hide our wallets. Even the slight cut of our eye, could be punishable by death. They want to strip us of our dignity, and chip away at our safety net. They will first murder and imprison you, then they will rape, torture and murder us. They will control our children with fear, handicapping them. It may sound crazy to some, but ready your history boys and girls.

We must not let them. I charge you today to unite. To console one another and use our united power to pull ourselves out of the dirt. The moment we stand up, together, we are no longer bound to their oppression. I charge you to educate yourselves. To know who and where you come from, but furthermore who you belong to. You cannot fail. I charge you to hug your children close and commend the black women, who pray for you, go to war over you, cover you, confide in you, uplift and believe in you.

To the black men, who have relied on, cried to, ran from, abused, disregarded, failed to consider, neglected and refused us black women, I ask you, Where’s your Kim K? Where’s your Latina model? I am not one to have an issue with interracial dating, but I do have a problem with you scaling my worth, by their standards. I am the one putting my life on the line. Bearing your children, teaching and nurturing them. Risking my life in marches, putting my life on the line to obtain video footage of your oppression. Because your oppression is my oppression, your hurt is my hurt, your life matters. . . TO ME! I am hurt, disturbed, prayerful and action-oriented in regard to the ways in which this society treats you.  I am outraged and disgusted. I am concerned about the future of my son, a black man. But you, you don’t appreciate me until you’re a hashtag on social media, or in a courtroom full of white supremacists. Even then, I don’t back down. I stretch myself wide and thin, similar to the physicality of my body when I carry your brown and black  children. I go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that you and OUR children, want for nothing, have needs met and are adequately cared for and looked after, are empowered and inspired. The thanks I get is more like a slap in the face because you don’t go to war for me, you don’t even slightly prefer me. My skin is too brown, my hips too slim, my scars too visible and my face, too much of a reminder of our shared history. The history rich with foundation, sealed with unity and carried for generations in love. You are running from me. The very woman your soul yearns for, the very missing  piece to your incomplete puzzle. You don’t like me. Because I encourage you when you’re facing defeat, because I push you when you want rest, because I love you when you hate me and because I refuse to let you settle for mediocrity. Sometimes.

I am a black woman, unappreciated, highly sexualized, misunderstood, and in danger of being victimized, and always, for YOU. I need you and we are in this together. Maya Angelou once said, “If you have the privilege of being born a black woman, it is my belief, that it is a part of your divine mission to liberate yourself from all external and internalized oppression and thereby liberate the world.” I’m here to tell you today, my brother, that there isn’t a single thing that you can do to change my love for you. There isn’t a host of words, a pierce of pain or a grim death that can stop my words of encouragement, there’s no threat, no being, no systematic oppression that will hinder this fire that burns within me to support and rally for you, to defend your honor, to bear your children, to fight for your freedom, even though mine is forever in question. The key to our bondage is our mentality. We need to free ourselves.

To the black men and women in a host of white spaces of employment, servitude, athletics, politics, education and so forth, I encourage you to never forget who you are and where you come from. This issue is global. The treatment of the black human being in spaces throughout this country is not conditional. Do not settle for their false appreciation, their likeness of your straight hair, their surprise of your proper speech, or their support of your ideas. Trust yourself and be mindful, you are one of us. The only difference between you and the young men being gunned down in these streets is that it hasn’t happened to you yet. None of us are exempt. They will not hesitate to pull the trigger on you, or me. Our degrees don’t matter, our status is questionable and our skin color is their target. They may tell you that you’re different. They may tell you that you’re not like other black people and they may even go as far to say that they don’t see color. None of that matters when you’re on the pavement, taking your last breaths, pleading for your life.

Functioning in white spaces does NOT MAKE YOU BETTER, it does not make you less than. It does not make you free. If you’re not careful you will begin to side with the oppressor. You will begin to make excuses for the killings of your people and you will ultimately develop a mind ill of making informed decisions and thinking for itself. The goal here is to go into these white spaces and make them comfortable, viable, and healthy for other black people. Not to further perpetuate the plague, and add to the injustices being brought forth. To the young black girl at the predominantly white campus, be infectious with your smile, vibrantly chase your dreams, and make changes. To the young black man, in the all white law firm, stand your ground, embrace your blackness and know that you’re supported, chase your dreams! To the single mother raising her children as best she can and working as hard as she can, keep going.  You are not who they say you are. Your life is no less valuable than theirs and you need to see it through for the sake of your children. To the black and brown juveniles, locked away because you’re deemed a menace, before you’re seen as a person and actually offered any REAL help, you’re in my prayers. This work is for you. You are not forgotten, and you do MATTER! They cannot and will not stop us. This divide and conquer is not a new thing. It is up to us to again and again, overcome.

You’re black, blessed, and burdened. What are you doing to create change in white spaces?

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