Facing the Demon of Yet Another Black Person Murdered
There’s this meme I like. It has a little girl facing a large demon. The girl is holding what looks like a leash tied to the demon’s hand and is grinning, ear to ear, with her forehead pressed up against the demon’s forehead. Looks like this:
It’s kind of a terrifying sight to behold considering what the demon could represent. When I first saw it, someone had posted about the demon’s of mental illness. I will not diminish the demons that people struggle with concerning their mental health. As a person with struggles of his own, I cannot deny the validity of that post.
But this post isn’t about mental health in general. This post is about how African Americans awake each and every day having to wonder at some point whether or not they will have to face the adverse effects of white supremacy, racism, or an assumed inferiority. I couldn’t sleep the other night. I was restless because Alton Sterling had been killed and was yet another black person being killed on camera. Then I saw the headlines for Philando Castile. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video.
I couldn’t bring myself to think happy thoughts. It’s depressing. Then I read Shaun King’s article in response to the #DallasShooting. King began with a brilliant analogy of a recipe for baking a cake from scratch and proceeded with following quote:
Somehow, the United States of America wants to have all of the ingredients for murder and mayhem, cook it at 500 degrees for a few [hundred] years, and be shocked when what comes out on the other end isn’t sweet peace and colorful rainbows. That’s not how recipes work.
This got me to thinking about everything that has happened in the past weeks. The hashtags, the posts, the comments, the articles, the colorblindness, the tone-deafness, the racism, bigotry, and hatred. All of these things are very real and call for a very visceral response whenever they are present. Trouble is, and perplexing and frustrating at this is, African Americans have been dealing with this from the beginning.
This point calls for repeating. Black folk have been marginalized, dehumanized, and relegated to places of discomfort since the founding of this country.
I repeated this fact because this is why a black male snapped and even committed the very same heinous acts that he was (we are) upset about. I have never condoned violence or murder and have even argued with people about its use. So, when I heard about the #DallasShooting, I was broken. My first thought was that the shooter was not black. This is not because of some belief that Black folks are inherently better than white folks. No. I don’t believe any race can be better any other race since race is a social construct that functions as though it is an actual genetic difference for humans. I believed this because we already believe that there is a war on us because of the effects of the “War on Drugs,” “War on Poverty,” and the history of legal murders of black citizens in this country. We don’t want to do anything to give society more of a reason to dismiss our murders than it already holds dear.
But that’s tangential to what we’re here to discuss. Earlier this week, before all of the murder and mayhem, I shared this message on my page on the facebook, The Ewing Perspective.
Some say that trauma is genetic. I disagree. Trauma, perpetrated brutally, passed from generation to generation, unhealed and rarely acknowledged, manifests itself in the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental sectors of our humanity. Whether Black, white, or other, it affects the citizenry of these United States continually.
Once we can address this openly, honestly, and without malice or fear of war, we can strive to address the racist sins of the past and begin collective healing.
I am still hopeful for collective healing. But, more than that, I am hopeful that we can discuss the dangers this trauma has wrought on our collective health and well-being. Moreover, people of color have been sadistically forced to dismiss their gut feelings in the face of such savagery justified by an inherently racist society. The “Taking Notes” blog on the NY Times states:
A fairer analysis, as ProPublica, found that black males aged 15 to 19 were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white males in that age group. And the Washington Post reports that black men [as a whole] were seven times more likely to be killed by police this year [written 9/4/2015] than white unarmed white men.
For centuries, these massacres have been perpetrated against black folk at the hands of white folk. It is such a devastating acknowledgement when one realizes the validity of their own rage and yet the helplessness and hopelessness at the thought of a solution.
Moreover, what is crystal clear in situations like this is the fact that “white Americans couldn’t handle what black Americans go through…” The more I processed the reactions to the #DallasShooting as the more information was released, It became clear to me that this was the case. I will cite one case to support my claim (and black people, I’m sure, know exactly where I’m going): Orenthal James Simpson. Do I have to lay out the case? Here’s my brief synopsis in black and white:
White woman and white man found murdered. Black husband suspected and charged for allegedly committing the murders. Large trial. Black man acquitted.
Does the OJ story end there? NO. Everyone knows that. But in talking to a white friend of mine a few years ago, I got to summarize why I was so excited for OJ’s acquittal. As I have said before, I am against murder in any form; and I don’t know if OJ did commit the murders. But, what I do know, is that his case is the ultimate example of what black Americans go through that white Americans can’t handle.
Now, I won’t discuss whether or not he should have been acquitted; I won’t discuss whether or not the murders are justifiable; and I won’t discuss whether or not he is finally being punished for the murders. But what I will discuss is this: this is the demon that black Americans face over and over at the hands of police officers, neighborhood watchmen, angry men in a gas station parking lot, etc, etc, etc… our justified lynching.
For my black readers, this is the argument that must be made in addition to the financial protest on behalf of every black citizen that has ever been killed by, hung by, lynched by white men. The demon has terrorized the souls of black Americans for far too long and we must join together in financial protest to see to its exorcism.
For my white readers, I thank you for having the courage, perseverance, and commitment to reading this far. But your job doesn’t end there. There is so much more to be done. Before I recommend that you do your research to learn to become an ally in our fight to exorcise the demon of black lynchings, I recommend that you self assess the amount to which you have colluded in racism in America. This will take a great amount of the courage, perseverance, and commitment that you have already shown in reading this far. There are two things you can do:
For my readers who are neither black nor white, your place in this fight for exorcism has not been overlooked. I thank you for showing some of the same courage, perseverance, and commitment to reading this blog post. I invite you to both participate in the financial protest as well as determine to what extent you have participated in racism in the steps laid out above.
Together, we can exorcise the demon. Together, we can fight for racial reconciliation.