There is no energy inside of me today. No energy for education today. I can’t fight off the devil’s advocates or microagressive racists…. I just can’t. Not today.
Literally, the last two weeks of life have been very hard on me.
I came back from Africa after spending two weeks healing and learning from locals in Zanzibar. It was, hands down, one of the most significant trips I’ve ever taken in my life (and I checked off my 20th country with Tanzania).
So after going from 14 days in paradise, I get back to Germany only to find Twitter swamped with horrible, horrible video footage of young black teens being brutalized by the police in McKinney, Texas.
I was enraged. I had a slavery-lesson planned for 8th graders that humpday, so I decided to focus exclusively on black stereotypes that were created to justify slavery, and the impact those stereotypes have on black lives today. Mckinney was a great example since the kids I was teaching were 14/15 years old too. But I took it further. I talked about Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Aiyana Jones and I got goosebumps as I spoke their names. In what classrooms in America are they talking about history and racism as honestly as I’m talking to these German children?
But before that question could be answered, Kalief Browder killed himself. After being arrested at age 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, this kid Browder was held in prison for three years without a conviction. The psychological trauma of the experience led him to death. Browder killed himself, but his death is murder. The state murdered Kalief Browder. Oh, my heart….
But before I could collect myself, the Rachel Dolezal scandal happened. I was like… whaaa??? And I channeled this confusion and disgust into a blog post. I tried my best to highlight the flaws I see and feel in the social discourse on her scandal. I tried my best to bring attention back onto real black issues (cough Mckinney) and give some advice on how to navigate through mass media’s agenda to hear the voices and opinions of the actual black community.
Bam! An altercation at a Fairfield, Ohio swimming pool ends with the police breaking a 12 year old girl’s jaw. I saw the videos the kids had taken. I listened to the 911 tapes where the girl working the entrance counter specifically says, “They’re videotaping, trying to make it look like a racist thing when it’s not at all.” My blood boiled. I almost started writing again. On Twitter, I RT’d and RT’d and RT’d everything I saw that was relevant. So many people were speaking my thoughts in under 140 characters.
Before I could get my first words onto paper to address Mckinney Part 2: Fairfield, I learned of the Dominican Republic’s decision to deport it’s Haitian citizens (“anyone who’s Haitian-looking”) which would displace up to 250,000 people. Has the world gone mad?
HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?
Yes. This morning I woke up to learn that a 21 year old white terrorist murdered 9 black people inside their church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Maybe it’s because SO much just happened all at once, maybe it’s because I feel so passionately for social justice, maybe it’s because this mass murder in Charleston has created an undeniable platform to discuss how extreme the race situation is in the US (and yet there’s still trolls and “colorblind” devil’s advocates regurgitating ignorant garbage), but I’m absolutely broken and exhausted today. When I heard about the mass shooting in Charleston, the wind was literally knocked from under my wings.
I went to the institute today where I sat in on a Civil Rights lesson with some 9th graders. At the end of the lesson (that I was NOT teaching), the student’s teacher pointed to me and said, “Kids, this is a real African American, so ask her all your questions!!!”
Suddenly I had 60 eyes on me. I felt like an alien. I kept it professional. “I can answer your questions to the best of my ability, but I want to make it clear to you all that I am one black person, and I cannot represent or speak for the entire black community.”
Because I can’t. I can’t speak for the mother in Ferguson who lost her baby last summer. I can’t speak for the people of Baltimore and the anger and fear they felt that day as white officers loaded a 25 year old man into a van head-first, shackled at his hands and feet. I can’t speak for the grandmother of little Aiyana Jones. I can’t speak for the countless people stopped and frisked, humiliated on the streets like animals. Last night 9 voices were taken from this earth….. How shall I speak for them? 9 voices who just wanted to praise God and feel closer to Him, just wanted to find comfort and reason in His Word while trying to survive in a violently racist society. A violently racist society that they ultimately were murdered by. They’re gone forever. And the weight of that has left me with no energy. Today I feel defeated. Today I feel hopeless.
But tomorrow I will be back.. and ready for the revolution.