What a daunting question? What a risky question? What if my employers read this? Or what about my coworkers? Well…frankly, that’s exactly what it’s like to be black in America.
It means to constantly be concerned with what someone else thinks; with what the majority thinks.
It means a state where assimilation is not an option, but if you’re too far on one side, you’re too ghetto, and if you’re too far to the other side of the spectrum, you’ve sold out.
And then there’s that middle. You’re not exactly where you stand. Okay with appreciating the so-called finer things in life, yet hurting for those you’ve quote/unquote left behind.
I hurt for myself. I hurt for the Michael Browns. I hurt for his family and his parents. Because no matter how much we protest or demand justice, Michael will never walk the face of this earth again.
I hurt for the Eric Gardners…who some say “well he did commit a crime” as in that’s justification that he lost his life over something so senseless.
I desire to shed tears for my brother…my black brother…who has unkept dreads…or has previously worn a do-rag… thus fitting some description of a thug or a black who isn’t to be trusted or who doesn’t deserve to be part of the upper echelon.
And who writes the laws of the upper echelon any way?
I mean…when will we really have our chance? I don’t mean a chance here and a chance there, but our chance.
Everyday, the struggle is real.
If I’m not struggling financially, I’m struggling emotionally, physically, mentally, or politically.
In some way, form or fashion, I’m reminded that I’m black.
Whether it’s through the shooting of a teen – and for that teen and his family, my heart bleeds.
Or if it’s through the corrupt political and judicial system, where prisons are being built based on 3rd grade test scores instead of programs instituted to provide encouragement and positive reinforcement.
I’m reminded that I’m black but not black enough because my speech is proper.
Yet not assimilated (white) enough because my speech isn’t proper enough and because I could care less about baseball or hockey.
And, of course, my hair.
Whether you mean it as a compliment or simply a comment, I GET IT; I chance my hair A LOT. It’s part of African-American culture. We pride ourselves in our hair and it’s versatility. I love my braids and I may wear a weave. The natural may come our and one day it may be short and the next day long. PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT MY HAIR AND HOW YOU CAN’T DO THE SAME THING…and NEVER ASK US HOW WE GOT OUR HAIR CURLY.
You know what it’s like to be black in America?
It’s like being a book that’s judged by its cover.
It’s not okay to insinuate you’re okay with me as a black person because I’m not like someone else you know. That other person may just be my brother and we may be more alike than you know.
And if you think we don’t stick together…well history has done everything it can to not only tear us apart, but tear us DOWN.
We have never been good enough. Never been smart enough. And never been pretty enough.
If this was your reality, what would you resort to?
You have the competitions between good hair and bad hair…and light skin vs. dark skin? You have competitions between the education vs. the quote/unquote uneducated. And now we have the classism. Talk about the wheels on the bus going ’round and ’round.
And are we angry? Ummm…yes!
If you continuously saw everyone around you suffering in some way, would you be mad? If you had a classification of a “language” as ebonics, wouldn’t you get mad? And if you saw systems set up directly to create roadblocks and failure, I think you’d be mad.
If you had dreams, but by the age of 12 began to think that reaching those dreams were unrealistic, you may be mad. People telling you to reach for the stars, but only giving you a telescope instead of the rocket. You can see it but have no idea how to get there.
So let’s do the math. (as I saw on a documentary)
Black people were slaves…not citizens for 400 years. They were stripped of their heritage. Names were changed. Families torn apart. And language taken away. AND BEATEN! We were treated as livestock.
Then, they were freed…without training or a plan…only to enter a system of segregation and Jim Crow laws. During this time, many still worked on plantations picking cotton and so on. Many didn’t finish school —I mean dropped out before 6th grade — to help at home. (BTW..school was one building with one classroom housing multiple grades.) Then they got married and had kids early. Plus this was the time where they watched what may has well been their brothers and sisters get lynched, hosed, and so on. And they saw their biggest leader assassinated. And they were afraid out of their minds. *Hard life? Absolutely?* A reason to have underlying anger and fear. Absolutely. They were second-rate citizens.
And then there was the great migration. When we uprooted from the south to the north for a better life…for those of us who left. – Another level of instability, yet a place of hope. Though…I can’t say everyone had a plan when they left. They just left. And who knows the detriment this caused?
Fast forward to the 1980s. This may be THE FIRST DECADE where blacks were actually beginning to get more credit as citizens and the remnants of segregation was less visible. However, just because they’re not visible doesn’t mean they’re gone.
And this is the world we live in today.
I actually think there was a time when it was a bit better. I’m starting to think it’s getting worse.
Why…because being black in America is confusing. It’s divisive. And we have a true lack of a sense of belonging.
This is not our country. We just happen to live here.
We don’t have a place. Not a place to really call home.
Only when we’re around each other is when we really feel like we’re at home. Displaced, yet the closest thing to home we’ll find. For us…home really is where the heart is. And our hearts are bound by a common, misunderstood…*if it’s even desired to be understood* history.