I believed in a dream of the people, where Justice would be more than a two way street. Because we shouldn’t be opposing each other. We shouldn’t be traveling in opposite directions. I believed in a vision of Justice as the best local train. Moving forward. Moving fast. Moving towards the same destination. Making all stops, for all passengers.
I don’t always listen to NWA, but when I do, it’s because America treats its niggers like dogs that get run over in the street. In the way. Disposable. Almost kind of funny. I hope my use of that word [nigger] made a lot of you uncomfortable. It should. Call me a sore loser, but I think Florida called the whole lot of us young black men ‘niggers’ when they said it was okay to kill a young man like he was Old Yeller. I say ‘us’ because some of you just get to be ‘people’ or at least pass.
Yes, I feel defeated. I am angry. I am the ugliest kind of angry. Thanks to this harsh reminder about what it STILL means to be a young black man in America. It’s a scarlet letter and the mark of Caine if you are not quiet and compliant. If you are not quiet and compliant, you are potential:
I’ve been a good, compliant little dog for too long. If this can happen, something is wrong and I am going to be upset about it. If you have the luxury to think I’m another overly sensitive black, I ask you to carefully examine your privilege. Why is it so easy the demonize this dead teenager? I’ve been compliant and socially neutral because I like the perks that come with being seen as a nice guy with balanced opinions.
But I’m really not allowed to have balanced opinions. when the choices I make affect the young black males that will be young and black after me. Some of you have the luxury of making choices and not becoming an avatar for your culture. If you fuck up, it’s just you. “You were partying too hard, but you can rally.”
If I fuck up, let’s face it–there’s a chance that would happen anyway, because that’s what people like me do. It’s our destiny to steal, fight, get wasted, and die behind bars. If I appear to be “one of the good ones,” it’s just a fallacy, because the “good ones” are just wolves in sheeps clothing. If I fuck up, I become a nigger… and niggers don’t rally. Based on suspicion, you can kill a nigger because he “looks scary.”
Examine your privilege. Whether you agree with me, whether you disagree with me. Whether you come from money or the gutter. Examine the advantage you have to just go outside and live. Some people have to remind themselves how they appear to other people before going out into the world. Some people must defer to the dominant perception. The dominant will crush you, laugh at you, or fear you. So smile at cops so you look unassuming and gentle. Walk hard so you can still fit into the narrative. And don’t talk too smart, to avoid appearing too smug–because the only thing worse than a ghetto nigger is an uppity one.
Examine your privilege. I’m sorry if what I say offends you. I want to believe that we are all brothers and sisters, but I cannot shrug the burdens and the fears that I have inherited from the black men before me. I cannot share it with you to hold when I get tired. This isn’t a “woe is me” type of deal, because there is no “me.” There is only “the suspect.” The young black male.
I will never forget that I share the same walk home with Trayvon Martin and countless others like him.
I used to roll my eyes at the old black men in barbershops and in my old neighborhood that would greet me with a “Hey, black man.” I’d always think “why black man?” Why not young man? Black is just an attribute right? About as important as a person’s hair color, right? Shouldn’t play any roles in my decisions about a person right?
In April I went into an art store with my friend (who is also black). We looked at markers. We were the only black people in the store. A white female employee decided to stand next to us and watch us as we perused the art materials…markers, paint brushes, paper, etc. We walked through various aisles and for a second I thought she was going to ask “Can I help you find something?”
But she never asked. She followed us around the store until we felt too uncomfortable, and then we left. In retrospect I probably should have asked her “Can I help you find something? The slippery thieving niggers that you’re looking for are not in this art store… in Chelsea.”
I’ve never wanted to renounce my humanity some much in my life (I’m aware that feeling makes no sense–then again neither does any of this). I can honestly tell you that I am ashamed to have hoped and believed in this world and it’s people. Only time and action will restore this faith I once had. Because I want to believe that the world can be fair, and that good guys can win, and that humans can actually have humanity’s back. All of this Black vs. White bullshit is going to make my life problematic to say the least.
But just so I wrap this up:
I’m sorry that Trayvon will suffer a second death. First a physical death occured, but now he will suffer a very serious character assassination. No, he wasn’t an angel and he wasn’t a monster, but because of the what this case has become he is condemned for being a normal teenager. I’m sorry that Trayvon will become a victory for card-carrying conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, a fashion statement for the hollow, spineless, privileged liberals, and another casualty in the long walk home that every young brown person will face.
I dream of a day where we will all make it home together without question. Where our routes will not be so different. Maybe it’ll be on that social train I was talking about earlier.