I Am Tired Of Talking About Black Death

July 27, 2015  |  


You know what bugs me the most about the Black Lives Matter movement?

That it needs to exist at all. The feeling that we have to explain our humanity to the world. The need to justify our anger. The idea that we have to ask them to not kill and disenfranchise us. I am very resentful about that.

I don’t care if you call it race talk fatigue, but I too am tired of seeing images of Black people getting harassed, threatened, beat and murdered by the police. I want to virtually yell “enough already” at every single person who posts the videos, articles and ruminations. It’s constant, overwhelming and depressing. I’ve got my own life, which comes with its worries. Like these bills. And these moves, which have been taking way too long to make. It’s a struggle to get through the day dealing with my personal drama, and now I have to think about the extermination of Black people too?

Yes, I too am tired of having to think about Black death just so that they can get it. And I am not alone. As Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II wrote in the piece “Our Nation Is In Need of Prophetic Pastoral Counseling Because it is Sending The Message: Only Black Deaths Matter,:

The assassinations at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, followed by the public forgiveness from the grieving families, were similarly cited by several South Carolina lawmakers as their reason for voting to remove the flag. What they are really saying is that Black Deaths Matter, not our lives. Black people in the US are only deemed worthy of action in their death, not in their life. In a year that has seen thousands in the streets, young and old, black white and brown, saying to the nation, “Black Lives Matter”, the painful and dangerous message coming from South Carolina this week is: Only Black Deaths Matter. That’s the painful and dangerous narrative being developed out of South Carolina; it’s a narrative that the oppressed of this land have known for a long time. Our nation is capable of doing the right thing – such as taking down the Confederate flag in the year 2015, a flag that represents the racist, immoral, unconstitutional defense of slavery and Jim Crow – but only when Black deaths happen and are met by a response deemed acceptable by those in power. Ever since this flag was raised in 1961, to send the message that South Carolina would not honor equal protection under the law, tens of thousands of small and large protests have not been enough to move the power brokers to take it down.

Black death has played in endless loops for decades now, but it has been accelerated by the invention of the Internet. And sometimes by ourselves. If we are not talking about those killed by police, then we are talking about those who have been murdered by people who look more like us. Whatever lens we choose to view it all from, the message is the same: Our lives only matter to the world when we are no longer here. But what about us left behind? Who speaks for the living?

I thought about this over the weekend as I watched some of Sandra Bland’s video blogs. I am haunted by the surrealism of them all. She was optimistic and yet she was going through some things. Depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder. She tells us in her own words in one of the videos that she is not happy. In another video blog, she is recording live from the beach. She spins the camera around and asks us if we see this. We do. It’s a motorcycle lodged in the back window of her vehicle. She explains how she was just trying to have a relaxing day when she had a near-death experience with a motorcyclist. She’s sobbing and praising His name. In that particular moment, she opts to look at the bright side and sees this as a sign from God about His mercy.

Those videos (along with the other glimpses into Bland’s life reported in the media) remind me of what I, along with some many other Black women I have come to know, go through. We walk around the world feeling irrelevant and questioning if our presence matters. We are both on guard and on edge. We are severely underpaid, and yet we do some of the heaviest lifting. We are unappreciated. Our opinions are denied, and our contributions are disregarded. And our mere presence has the potential to upset everybody. We get sad. We get angry. We get depressed. We get hopeful. We find God. Or work. Or some other distraction. We battle on. Some of us get over or around it. Others don’t make it. Like Bland.

In spite of her fate, the Bland video blogs suggest that she was a woman wanting to live. And she wanted other people who looked like her to want to live too. But she struggled, both internally as well as from external influences (i.e. racism and the police). And she wanted us to know that too. Basically, what I see in Bland’s videos is also the physical manifestation of what Zora Neale Hurston once said. “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

It is one of the reasons why Bland isn’t just another Black death to me. She is more than a person who was targeted, harassed and unfairly detained by police. She is more than a person who mysteriously died in a Texas jail cell. And she is more than another symbol in our ongoing quest for justice. She was a real human being who was happy and thankful some days and other days, not so much. And in the sea of talk about Black death, she was courageous enough to leave evidence behind, which speaks to her humanness and all of its complexities – in her own words. And her life didn’t just matter because of the circumstances behind how it ended.

In my opinion, Black Lives Matter is more than airing grievances over the death of Black people by the hands of police brutality, violence and mass incarceration; although, it is that too. We have to talk about the living and what these pressures put on us. We have to stop talking just to White people and begin the hard conversation of talking to ourselves. Black Lives Matter has to be a call to arms. A pledge to ourselves as a community and individuals that we will think about our lives as much as they think about our deaths. A pledge that no matter what, we love ourselves, take care of ourselves and speak our truth. That our lives matter right here and now.

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  • too_real

    Did you all know that it is reported that the Chareleston shooter had to stop his slaughter and reload his weapon FIVE times during the massacre?! They are saying that the victims were praying as he was killing everyone.

    What is up with that?

    Black people PLEASE re-think this religion thing- it’s not working for us.

  • Maybe if we as Black people stop the extermination of of our own by our own in our own communities, other might follow the lead.

  • provokethought

    And does anyone notice that there are very little comments posted here? This story may not be “juicy” enough for others. I always wondered why this site features numerous stories about our pain and fewer stories about how we overcome and how are moving forward. I am tired of hearing about all these deaths too. This reading was right on target. I hope to read about more stories of how we deal with this and move forward in the future.

  • Teek

    This article… Maybe we should start #blacklivesmatter by showing us living and not dying… What we’re doing to change things. You sometimes feel helpless in a world full of everything you’ve strived so hard to stay away from. I ride past the police in my legit car, with my legit license and my legit insurance and still check my rearview wondering if today is going to be my day to fight. Why? And then I feel ashamed because I can’t even trust that my neighbor, who looks like me, isn’t going to shoot me or my kids… (or all 3 of us if you live in LA) I’m thinking I need to do another social media cleanse, but to not know what’s going.. Which is worse?

  • Simon666

    I’m tired of black people calling wolf (police kills black woman, turns out suicide all along). Michael Brown never had his hands up and Trayvon Martin was once caught with a screwdriver and 12 pieces of women’s jewelry. When true innocents die (Tamir Rice, Walter Scott), no one bats an eye. When thugs die, whole neighborhoods go up in flames.

    • Teek


    • bkabbagej

      So “thugs” deserve to die, their lives are less valuable than those who’ve never done anything illegal (innocents) as you call them. So you share the same attitude as the police. If you don’t listen to their instructions and give up your civil rights then you should look to lose your life at their discretion. No matter what you or the police may think all human life is valuable and to the best of your ability one should try to preserve it. So Eric Gardner sold loose cigarettes, Trayvon once had a screwdriver and some jewelry, Michael Brown never put his hands up, the Gentleman in Charleston S.C. owed back child support and decided to run with his hands up, all these men deserved to DIE…really Sandra Bland should have never been arrested to have committed suicide in a jail cell. Since you’re so tired of Black people crying wolf, then explain why they keep dying under circumstances that white folks just don’t seem to die from. Petty theft, traffic stop and not following the direction of a police request has never lead to their death

      • Simon666

        >>So “thugs” deserve to die, their lives are less valuable than those who’ve never done anything illegal (innocents) as you call them.

        Nice strawman. It does not justify the destruction. Over people like Tamir Rice and Walter Scott, I could understand people are justifiably upset and can act it out and let people in charge know. The others may not deserve to die, but it’s not like they’re a big loss to society.

        >>If you don’t listen to their instructions and give up your civil rights then you should look to lose your life at their discretion.

        Didn’t say that either.

        >>Trayvon once had a screwdriver and some jewelry

        So Zimmerman was right to distrust him. Trayvon shouldn’t have jumped him and smashed his head into the concrete. Michael Brown shouldn’t have struggled for an officer’s gun. That kind of idiocy gets you killed.

        >>Since you’re so tired of Black people crying wolf, then explain why they keep dying under circumstances that white folks just don’t seem to die from.

        Again didn’t say no black people die under circumstances that white folks just don’t seem to die from. Try to pay attention. I gave the specific examples of Tamir Rice and Walter Scott. I just get fed up of the fake cases, Sandra Bland being one of them (I’ll give you she was arrested over nothing, but come on, the murder conspiracy is over the top), Michael Brown another and Trayvon Martin too.

        • Guest

          “>>Trayvon once had a screwdriver and some jewelry”–Lol! And for this his death is rendered justifiable to you? Because that’s how your argument is coming across. I really shouldn’t take you seriously (think you’re trolling), but here’s the thing, all of the things you’re pointing out about the TM and MB case are from the killers perpestive. GZ & TM fought, but there’s no concrete proof that TM hit him first–only his word. He won the case because he got his a** kicked and claimed he was in fear for his life–the exact same excuse the officer in the MB–were many witnesses still testified that he did have his hands up–used. The going for the gun could not be proven either–again, just his word. The biggest discrepency was where the bullets entered. Being in fear of one’s life to justify a killing works for good reason–you can not measure it. That’s why law enforcements across this country love it.

          And it’s funny that you think that black people were not upset, or protest the deaths of Walter Scott and Tamir Rice–because they were and they did. And thanks to the wonders of modern technology (the camera), the cop (who “feared for his life” per his police report) in the WS case was indicted. So an indictment=No more protest. And in the TR case, the DA has already been given the approval to charge the officers in that case as well.

          The irony in all of this is that, there are people who STILL feel that TR & WS deaths were just as justifiable as TM & MB. They use the same irrelevant excuses that you’re using–TR shouldn’t have been playing with that toy gun, how was the officer suppose to know it wasn’t real, so it’s his fault the officer shot him. WS shouldn’t have ran, how was the officer suppose to know he wasn’t running to get another weapon since he already went for his taser, so it’s his fault the officer shot him.

          The irony in that is just too rich.

  • Blu

    Idk why my comment is listed as “pending” I think one of the editors is in her feelings about a post. Nevertheless all I said was I agree. I didn’t know others felt this way. I felt kind of guilty but hey. Thankfully I’m not alone.

    Now let’s see if this post is pending 24 hours later too smh

  • Q.

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been avoiding most social media sites and stopped watching the news because the display of our deaths have been relentless over the last couple of years. It’s emotionally and mentally draining and heartbreaking. Yet there’s this guilt I feel for not keeping up with the latest news on who else has died from a wrongful death. I’ve grown so weary of black lives constantly being portrayed in connection with death, struggle and poverty. Such images can take a toll on our minds even when we know that there is more to our lives.

  • mmmdot

    “One can participate in ‘the struggle’ and still ‘have a life.’ As a result of historical experiences that have whisked them to the brink of psychological annihilation and back, Black women and other women of color recognize that self-nurturance is as important as taking care of others. To require oneself and others to enact one’s politics perfectly at all times and under all conditions is an unnecessary burden and may be counterproductive in the long run. Such extremism leads to burnout and alienation, and it defies the reality that change is a process.” – Layli Phillips

  • Trixie Daniels

    It’s necessary to hear about all this. It’s not about making you feel comfortable, it’s about getting the facts and truth out there. Would you prefer to not hear about it but still have it exist? Ignorance doesn’t mean the problem ends – just that the people suffering are suffering alone.

  • Aj

    I agree 100%!!!

  • Simone Mackey

    I don’t like hearing about this either 🙁

  • alexistee

    These are my exact sentiments. I deleted my Twitter app for the week just to clear some mental headspace. The overwhelming sight of violent death and brutality has drained me so much. I’m tired of trying to prove that my life, black lives, hold value and are worthy of protection. It’s mentally exhausting.

  • teedelee

    I am so in love with this article. The black lives matter topic and these deaths have been weighing heavily on mind. Sometimes i just want to put this burden down and hide. Or pretend for a while that this is not reality, because it becomes so mentally exhausting.

  • Blu

    Omg I thought it was just me!!!!! I agree.

  • eestoomuch