I wrote this two days ago when it was relevant. I, among others, was emotional to say the least then. Today, everyone’s debating Weiner’s wife for standing by him through another sexting debacle. This is the long version of what appeared on Vibe Vixen today.
Okay, America, we get it. Though we were integral in the foundation and construction of these beautiful United States of America, we are not your own, never have been, never will be.
After the Zimmerman trial verdict poked a million holes in our post racial theory, scores of African-Americans were shocked. I wasn’t surprise one bit. While there’s progress in race relations, it’s creeping along at a snail’s pace, and I’m quite jaded. Growing up in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King’s place of death, racism here can be maddening, but you chalk it up to ignorance.
Though I’m blessed to able to use a restroom that’s labeled ‘Women,’ instead of ‘Colored,’ my parents were raised in the Jim Crow era. My mother tells stories of seeing army tanks ride along the streets of South Memphis the night Dr. King was killed. My great-grandfather, who was biracial, passed up his own children at a train station in Mississippi for fear that he’d be beaten or even worse because he’d passed for white. And even I’ve had to address racist remarks from graduate school classmates in a public forum.
That constant fight isn’t what being black is all about, but it is a part of it. I used to think being from the “deep south” attributed to my slanted ideas on race, and maybe that’s true, but there’s no doubt that before you take your last breath, you’ll feel that shoulder tap that you’re different either directly or indirectly.
For many, that shoulder tap came in the form of the verdict, the suggestion that a teenager was a beast who was out for blood or the opposition to and dismissal of President Obama’s experiences and feelings as a black man in this country during his pivotal address last week.
While people protested either by foot or by keyboard, I held back my sadness, but nothing has affected me more than the news that George Zimmerman allegedly rescued a family from an overturned truck. He’s a hero now–maybe again to some? The comments section was a pep rally for his good works:
“Once again, Zimmerman is a hero. When he’s not protecting the safety of his hard working neighbors, he’s doing the right thing and rescuing someone who probably wanted him convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Zimmerman, I salute you for doing the right thing in spite of what the country has done to you.”
The hero syndrom for Zimmerman makes me ill, but it only uncovers a larger issue. If you want make it clear that young black men’s lives have no value, do that. Say that. Do NOT continue to throw stones and hide hands, use ignorant propaganda and logic to justify wrongdoing or walk on eggshells because you feel guilty about what your ancestors did 400 plus years ago.
Forgive me if I don’t have sympathy for those who feel “some type of way” about racism being pointed out. You must acknowledge that it’s right here in our faces. You’ll never know what it feels like to live in darker skin so you have to let us be angry and hurt….because it happened.
It wasn’t that long ago that our men were being strung up on trees, left to hang like art pieces in a museum. We weren’t considered human, and it wasn’t fathomable that we would become citizens with a chance at the American Dream. We don’t have cotton sacks strapped across our chests, but the remnants are still there because they are constantly swept under the rug. Until everyone’s mindsets change, nothing will follow with longevity.
Black folks aren’t off the hook, either. If no one else values us, we must and be our own advocates. Check out actor Romany Malco’s Huffington Post blog. He said a mouth full.
Daily, sometimes subconsciously, we ignore our feelings, adapt to, adjust for or accommodate whites to live comfortably in America. It’s not until we see a Trayvon Martin or that nameless black boy in every major city whose life is taken in bright lights that we realize that even walking down a street can be a life-changing act.
Call me crazy, but a black president isn’t enough “proof” that we’re in this post-racial society. Accepting an intelligent and competent man is a great thing, but what about those children who don’t yet have stellar credentials or haven’t reached their full potential just because? Until they and we are all equal, we’re in a holding pattern.
Let’s all get it together.