If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say that you enjoyed it.
I have heard it asked multiple times on social media, why are you guys so angry?
We are angry because an 18-year-old was shot 12 times and a deliberate decision was made not to put the killer on trial. Meanwhile, the killer has made over $300,000 off of this dead boy. He has gotten married while a family grieves over their son. While a son becomes a statistic. Every 28 hours another black person is killed by law enforcement. We are angry because this is accepted as a fair outcome. Bury your child and move on.
We are angry because we watched a father of six, who was tired of being profiled, as he was strangled to death. Eleven times he gasped:
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe.
We are angry because we are told that black means bad. Because Hollywood tells us that the white guy is so much more likeable, that his story is so “universal”. A story about a person of color is “niche” — it is not my story and it’s not yours. We are told who can be a hero and who cannot, and are taught that this is a reflection of reality.
We are angry because the mass media repeats this narrative until we believe it to be the truth. We live in fear of one another because we have been told to. We are afraid of the black bodies in our midst.
We are angry because we are told that they were “asking for it.” When someone is a minority, they should know better. He should not have worn a hoodie. He should not have stood up for himself. They should not have been there at that time. Don’t they know that someone might take it the wrong way? Don’t they know that they must very clearly and humbly preemptively prove their innocence to strangers every single day? We are told who truly has a right to public space, and it is not the black man or woman.
We are angry because the system was built on slavery, violence, dehumanization, and profit by any means necessary. If the people in power are benefiting from the institution then they have no reason to change it, no reason even to acknowledge it. We are angry because we are told that these are isolated incidents. We are told to wait in line, say our piece, and move on. We are told that change is coming, but this shit is still happening. The tools we are given are useless against an institution designed to maintain an oppressed underclass. There will be no indictment. When a badge is a license to kill, what recourse do we have?
We are angry because when we disagree with this, we are shut down. We are “too sensitive” or “too PC”. We are expected to laugh at the racist joke, because its punchline is racism. It’s funny because black people are loud and sassy. It’s funny because it reinforces another painful stereotype. Why can’t you take a joke? We are angry because Toni Morrison was right when she said, “Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence.” And we are told to be agreeable in the face of such violence.
But agreeable never got us anywhere. We must reject the system. We must speak truth to power, reeducate ourselves, take each other seriously, and always challenge our own held assumptions and beliefs. We must stay angry, and we must be vocal about our pain.
And as a reminder to myself: Do not be afraid of what some unknown bigot will say about the way you love, live, and hurt. Do not apologize for confronting a culture that is rooted in anti-blackness and the devaluation of black and brown lives. Do not be afraid to claim your space and to make room for the survival of others.
We do this for Mike Brown. We do this for Eric Garner. We do this for Jordan Davis. We do this for Oscar Grant. We do this for Rekia Boyd. We do this for Amadou Diallo. We do this for Sean Bell. We do this for Fong Lee. We do this for Renisha McBride. We do this for Akai Gurley. We do this for Tamir Rice. We do this for countless others…
We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning.
– Sandra Cisneros