The World Is Cold Enough: Black Folks, Let’s Be Kinder To One Another
Dear My Fellow Fed-Up Sistas and Brothas,
This has been a particularly trying year for people of color, hasn’t it? The cold-blooded killer of an innocent, college-bound, black boy went free. A former college football star was shot dead when running to the police for help. Blackface Halloween costumes seemed to be all the rage this year. A young black man was racially profiled, arrested and detained for buying a $350 belt at a high-end clothing store. A young black woman had her head blown off for seeking help after a car accident. Racist columnists showed, in no uncertain terms, just what they thought of New York City’s new mayor and his racially mixed family.
We are trying to process such regression of race relations and civil rights in a country that can boast progression in almost every other area. We are all dealing with it. How well we’re dealing with it is anyone’s guess at this point. Some of us choose to get involved in the legal processes. Some are engaging in thought-provoking, life-changing discussion. Some are creating art in all forms to spread messages of nonviolence, anti-racism and unity.
And there are the others. The point-of-view police. Calling folks out far and wide for tweeting or retweeting jokes, but not discussing Marissa Alexander’s trial. Questioning folks’ dedication to their race and The Struggle because they choose not to participate in race discussions. I do believe you mean well. You’re fed up like the rest of us. You’re livid and God knows you have every right to be. We all do. Trying to spread the message of racial equality only to be met with more murders and cases of racial profiling is enough to keep us all either living in a constant state of fear or animosity. We’ve been fighting the same fight for eons and forward movement seems slow at best.
What we have to remember is not to turn our frustrations on one another. We are all in this thing together. We are all coping the best way we know how. For some of us, coping looks like an hours-long Twitter discussion about the insistent choice of law enforcement (and society at large) to blame the victim of even the most debased hate crimes. For some of us, using that space as a starting point to unapologetically raise our voices and organize against racial inequity is powerful. For some of us, that is where our talents best serve. Others choose to talk less and involve themselves in whatever physical labors of unity their hands can find to further the cause. Protesting. Taking classes on race relations. Establishing relationships with local law enforcement.
And then some of us are silent and motionless. Some of us don’t know what to say. Some of us don’t know what to do. We feel helpless at first so we crack jokes, unsure of how else to bring comfort to so many of our people who are hurting and angry. Some of us avoid direct contact with the issues until we can make sense of them by ourselves first. And there is no shame in that.
We are all feeling our way through this. Lashing out at those who respond differently than you do is not a solution to the problem we’re facing as a people. Deriding each other for processing, thinking, feeling, reacting to troubling race related news in a way you might not readily understand does nothing to coax even the slightest bit of solidarity out from behind the shadows of fear, pain and indecision. Only patience, understanding and affirmation will do that. Let us remember to embrace one another, but bare our teeth toward racism. That is the only way to honor those we’ve lost.
Peace to Trayvon Martin.
Peace to Jonathan Ferrell.
Peace to Renisha McBride.
And to the rest of those whose lives have been lost but whose names will continue to inspire the fight against racism, peace to you.