It was September 23rd, 2020 and I had woken up to the news that the grand jury in the murder trial of Breanna Taylor decided not to bring charges against the officers who killed her in her bed as she slept. It was the painful end to a terrible situation that had been in the news for weeks. I remember that morning, and the heaviness that I felt as the murderers who killed a young Black woman, would receive no accountability for their actions. As I logged into my morning meeting for work, my boss took the time to mention that we were all feeling a sense of loss this morning as we heard the news. I was surprised because no one in my office ever spoke about these issues, not even as they pertained to the law and we worked at a law firm. My surprise turned to disgust as my boss explained that we were mourning the loss of my coworker’s cat.
On March 27th, 2022, the Academy gathered to celebrate who they consider to be the best in Hollywood. We all know by now, that at the show Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after he made an insensitive remark about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. I received a news alert on my phone within minutes of the slap. It was trending on Twitter for about a week and stayed in the news cycle for just as long. Multiple celebrities voiced their opinion to let everyone know how traumatized they were by this incident.
It’s been over a week, since a white supremacist murdered 10 Black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, NY. I bring up both incidents to highlight the ways in which our culture is complicit in white supremacy through silence as well as through the consumption of Black trauma, but we do not care about the sanctity of Black life. This attack was a top Twitter trend for maybe a day, until it was lost to sports on Sunday. I have heard almost no celebrities come out and say anything. I guess the murder of 10 people isn’t as traumatizing.
As I sat in that meeting in 2020, and as I have watched the world purposefully ignore the pain and the trauma that white bodies inflict on Black bodies every day, I have been left speechless. Our pain is never seen as such. We’re expected to keep going and keep fighting and keep pushing through. Even as we cry in between meetings, as we cry ourselves to sleep, as we bury and mourn our dead. We are not given the chance to grieve because our lives are not seen as anything worth grieving over. Yes, we’re loved when we entertain you. But to understand that we are whole human beings who live a life that is not always meant for white consumption, is not an easy concept for society to understand.
The attack in Buffalo, NY was the single deadliest hate crime against Black people in this country since 1923. Not many people know this story, but in January 1923, a massacre took place in Rosewood, Florida. A group of white people, destroyed an entire town off the lies of a white woman who said she had been attacked by a Black man. Rosewood was a prosperous town, and its Black inhabitants had created something for themselves. A similar story to the Tulsa Riots where hate is fueled by jealousy, and the belief that because you are white you are owed a better existence than everyone else.
There’s a lot that could be said and we always want to explain away violence. We want to understand what could drive someone to commit a crime such as this? But that puts the spotlight on a white man who is insecure about his place in the world, instead of on the lives who were taken and the lives who have been destroyed. America is country that is confused as to who they are. We love Black culture, and we love Black people when they are running on a field, throwing a ball through a hoop, performing on a stage, or voting us into office. America loves what we can do for them, but they do not love who we are.
But you’re hate for me says more about you than it does about me. I’ve seen on social media that a lot of Black people were scared to go to the grocery store this past week. And I must admit I was one of them. I feel nervous sometimes as I go to church, and I do scan a crowd if I am at a predominately Black event, not for violence from the attendees, but from anyone who looks like they might not belong.
It’s taken me a long time to process this crime, and in all honesty, I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting, of marching, of protesting, of speaking out against injustices, I am tired. It feels like a losing battle. I’m also tired of feeling as though I am drowning on dry land and no can see me suffering. I walk around my neighborhood, and no one is affected by the lives that have been lost. Racism has a way of making you feel as though you are crazy. Because you are so deeply affected, but no one else is.
I end this post with a message to my Black people. I see you. I feel the pain that you are carrying and you are not crazy. You are not alone. We are not alone. My deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost their loved ones on May 14th, 2022. May we never forget their names.
Pearl Young, 77
Ruth Whitfield, 86
Andre Mackniel, 53
Katherine ‘Kat’ Massey, 72
Celestine Chaney, 65
Margus D. Morrison, 52
Heyward Patterson, 67
Aaron Salter, Jr., 55
Roberta Drury, 32
Geraldine Talley, 62