“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.” — Zora Neale Hurston
Like many, this past week has been a rough one for me. I’ve struggled with watching the footage from Ferguson, MO and reading of other unarmed Black men being killed because their bodies made someone perceive them as a threat. I’ve gone from angry to sad to exhausted to making sure I’m hyper aware of everything going on and then back to angry again. I’ve wrestled with the already cynical, slightly militant, HBCU graduate side of myself that wants to raise my fist all day long (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Bison) and yet doesn’t truly believe anything I do will amount to much when I see peaceful protestors getting tear gassed every time I turn on MSNBC or CNN. I’ve signed petitions and talked through potential legislation with friends who walk in that arena about what can truly be done to help stop this from happening again (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Hoya). I’ve even contemplated how realistic it is to crawl in the bed for a few days, roll the covers up over my head, and pretend like the world doesn’t seem to be collapsing before our very eyes on our TV screens.
And while all of those thoughts have run through my head, another one remains. One that tells me, “You don’t have the luxury or the right to feel exhausted. You, who knows the history of this country; you, who volunteers in her community; you, yes you, can’t run and hide from this moment. Because your people are being treated as if they are terrorists in their own land. Because your peers are going straight into the thick of things, getting arrested for simply exercising their rights to be a part of a free press, and fearing for their lives as they attempt to identify themselves as media, hoping that makes a difference. Because someone’s child was killed, seemingly because he committed the very harmful crime of jaywalking while Black. Because yet another child was killed.”
It’s because of those last thoughts that I don’t get under my covers and just cry. But that doesn’t mean the desire isn’t there — especially when it feels like Black people are having to constantly explain our rage and pain. Be clear — this isn’t to vilify everyone, of course, but it’s to acknowledge that because of some folks’ action, I’m tired. Tired of hoping one day people will get it. Tired of being disappointed when they don’t. Tired of knowing that to some individuals, it will never be important that a Black kid bled out on the street from bullets that should have never even gone near him. Just because he is Black.
How many times do we have to see a Black mother or father get on TV and tell of how he or she now has to answer a child’s inquiry of if he will get shot simply because of who he is? How many times do we have to see the images of the brutal over reactions to Black bodies in public spaces? What’s it going to take for some folks in this country to acknowledge that we are human beings???
I wrestle with those questions too, obviously.
I wrestle with a feeling of despair that wants to take over and force me to give up.
I wrestle with a feeling of helplessness, wondering if anything I do matters when we can’t even prevent our children from being gunned down by the people who are supposed to protect them.
And because of all that wrestling, I’m so damn tired y’all. But I’m a daughter of Howard, which means I’m a sister of Zora… so I know. I know despite my wrestling, I can’t keep quiet. Despite the despair that wants to take over, I can’t give up. And despite the exhaustion I feel, I can’t tuck myself under the covers and act like nothing is happening. Not when there’s so much more work to do.