Many people have questioned the motives, feelings and rationale of the black community’s interest in the death of Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial. People have been speaking of riots, arguing that this isn’t a race issue, claiming that there is a lack of evidence to prove Zimmerman’s guilt, and questioning why black people are concerned with this case and why it means so much to us. Can we stop expecting the worst out of our people after one possible not guilty verdict? This is the same Black man that endured approximately 400 years of enslavement, rape, brutality, and inhumane treatment. Upon being released, the Black man’s only aim has been to peacefully merge into society with dignity and equality. You see, somewhere deep down America knows that this is not about Trayvon Martin. It is so much bigger. This is about years of being told we are not good enough, not beautiful, not smart, insignificant, and yes, we are guilty.
Trayvon’s predecessors have never been forgotten. From the countless, nameless men and women who were lynched to Emmett Till to the Scottsboro nine to the disproportionate sway of justice’s pen and gavel; Blacks have heard repeatedly, ”You are guilty.” Rodney King was guilty of something to all of those police officers who beat him. Trayvon Martin was guilty of something to George Zimmerman when he followed him. We are a frustrated people and when cases like this are publicized we are reminded of the very Blackness that we cannot hide but that we ignore for the sake of peace. We are reminded of our Blackness and reject the notion that it is inherently bad. We are reminded of the indirect, passive racism that still haunts our Blackness. We are in this double conscious state of pretending and hurting, of smiling with constant frustration, of facing all of the horrible statistics of the Black man, quietly knowing that the frustration has become too much. The warring soul could no longer incessantly lull him into a state of slumber with a sweet lullaby to make this nightmare bearable.
You see, in the hearts of all Blacks watching this case they know that if an older Black man pursued a young white boy, he would be guilty. Guilty like we have always been. Blacks are frustrated. In all of our hearts there comes a time when the balance of this ever pressing war becomes too much. When the soul desires to become one; to express our whole identity: the sheer joy in being American and the tragic reality that somehow I am not American. I am Black. An acceptance of this broken promise of Americanism suggests I must somehow reject the aching of my identity as a Black (wo)man in order to celebrate or enjoy but a taste of what it feels to be American. And somehow America is aware of this notion. Look at how we are identified: Black American, African American; as if the two can never be one.
I say to Blacks: fight, press on! Don’t allow this to push you over the edge. Love is the greatest force.
To the White majority that is America, I understand that all of you are not racist. (I have friends of all races that I would give my life for) But please acknowledge that you will never understand what it is like to be a Black person in America. You will never understand the frustration of seeing your people in this constant state of chaos and frustration. You don’t understand that in being a part of the status quo engine that drives America that most of you are unknowingly a part of the problem. I pose this question to assert my point: What is it like to be White in America? Are you aware of your privilege? Whites are not confronted with this level of truth daily or even acknowledge it. They don’t have to. They have that luxury.
I cannot run from or ignore my Blackness. It quietly plagues my spirit and body, yet can never be fully understood and revealed. If you can’t feel or understand any of what I just said, you will never understand what it is like to be Black in America. So all I ask, is that you do not judge. Continue to live in your convenient reality but don’t judge all that comes along with our inconvenient truth and inescapable frustration of our split souls.