it costs to breathe when you’re Black in America

shaunteris@gmail.com

it’s not that Black people just all of a sudden changed and began to live up to the vicious stereotypes that run rampant through the minds of non-Black people.

it’s not that we have become superhuman & want revenge for oppression, turning into an animal to attempt to subdue the officer that drew their weapon, killing us for no reason. our pain is underestimated. we are literally treated as if we can take more pain than anyone else. that trickles into our community, into our treatment of each other. (check out this study of racial bias in others perceptions of our pain in that link.)

it’s not that Black people are cool with a Black person killing another Black person or that white people care about the actual Black individuals killed by others when they use the ‘black-on-black crime’ argument.

 we need to hold ourselves accountable but understanding our place in this fight is key.

we take a breath, & that seems to be too much for the world. we need to first stop apologizing for breathing.

we question our physical features. we live under the impression that we have to undermine our capabilities & hide our identity just to survive. that comes from somewhere. I don’t understand how people leave this part out. history. it’s not like we can erase it. we can fool the world, but we can’t change history.

that is the danger of white supremacy. the only reason that racists care about crime in Black communities is because that means that there are more numbers, statistics that they can depend on. there is a disproportionate amount of Black people in jail so there is this assumption that the stereotype that we are violent is justified. the reason that we are in prisons is not because we are violent. take a look at the offenses, the injustice. I shouldn’t have to explain that some people belong in jail for you to know that racism prevails in the prison system. I’m sure that deserving criminals were jailed when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brought in handcuffs.

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there is a chance that Opportunity School Districts will be legal, & gentrification will come in full sweep in Atlanta. it is the fact that children and their parents along with other family members can be poisoned & no one be held accountable. it is the fact that we can be gunned down, mutilated, harassed, assaulted & brutalized for no reason, but no one bats an eye.

the history of this country & the residuals of slavery continue to affect the mental & physical beings of this group of people. I am tired of it being swept under the rug.

people have tried to invalidate my attacks against the system, asking me if I have ever been discriminated against or called a racial slur. professors, teachers, peers. I have been questioned about my hair routines & mocked for my wholeness as a Black woman.

I have been in the shoes of some who have been discriminated against, but those that I have not should not be treated as isolated cases. racism does not have this formula. it morphs with the times. it’s like we are still ruled on plantations through housing discrimination & displacement, & the people that decide what happens to us see themselves as our rulers.

the issue lies in what remains true: white supremacy lives on.

I wonder why people can continue to abuse us & let our deaths be the backdrop of reality. we are not a subset that needs to be corraled only during election season. we are not people who need to live in food deserts. for example, look at this website to see where some of these food deserts exist in Atlanta.

the reason why we remain so unorganized but so loud is because we know what it’s like being Black despite regional limitations & cultural backgrounds. we understand the boundaries that are set for us in white spaces & the internalization of our self-hatred. a lot of us remain hopeful, but cynical. we find reasons to live even though life gives us reasons to die including walking home from buying Skittles and Arizona tea.

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the world talks around Black issues & issues of people of color & saves headlines for when we get tired & scream in the streets. when we exercise our power is when white supremacists create political fronts to delegitimize the crowds that gather in protest or the scholar that refuses to analyze texts through a western lens.

the victims of police brutality and the victims of crime in Black communities are being exploited by white supremacists alike. the two perspectives line up to carry this distinctive, dangerous message that Black life does not matter, & (supposedly) Black people don’t care about Black life either.

we care about each other, but just like we accept what happens to us at the hands of police, we accept what happens in the streets because that is life for us.

African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population in America. This source, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, also includes resources for mental health services & information pertaining to the reality of mental health in the Black community. We are 20% more likely than the general population to experience issues with mental health.

Look at the stories of Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Miriam Carey, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Malissa Williams, Alesia Thomas, Shantel Davis, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tarika Wilson, Kathryn Johnston, Alberta Spruill, Kendra James on Huffington Post and do your homework!

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I heard the gunshots in the officer involved shooting that were fired that killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta. My grandmother & I ducked on the floor when we heard the shots. She recalled that it sounded like Bonnie & Clyde were having a shootout. Later we saw what happened on the news. I remember writing to the city council about how the officers were not held accountable for the slaying of Ms. Johnston. They planted drugs at her home & tried to frame her after serving a warrant at the wrong home. They did not serve heavy sentences. Therefore, I feel that no accountability was held.

What happened to Kendrick Johnson in Valdosta? A young brother does not just so happen to  end up in a mat with bruises & evidence of forced trauma.

Why has Michael Duncan not been convicted of actually killing Jordan Davis in Florida even though he is serving a life sentence. That is not justice.  I spoke with his mother about this, & she let me know what she feels that I need to do personally.

Why is George Zimmerman still free?

Why is no one in Flint, Michigan in jail for poisoning a community?

Why is slavery still legal under the 13th amendment?

———————

now… let’s keep going.

let’s be real.

no major media outlets report when Black women go missing. no major media outlets cover heinous crimes in our communities to create this national outrage that everyone believes we should have as we do for cases of police brutality. no major coverage of events such as protests & vigils exists so that America can see that we are not complacent with our own deaths.

they can cover reality shows like Donald Trump’s presidency, but the real news never receives due & equal attention. cases of police brutality that make it to major media outlets are usually met with condemnations of the oppressed. in protest & in the framing of the stories of these unjust killings, you see this rejection of Black pain. it is deemed invalid by analysts & policymakers.

people impose thoughts & shut out the fact that these are not isolated instances. people are still killed just because they are Black. Ida B. Wells kept up with that record & now we are having to mentally keep up with the names & narratives.

we are being murdered. take the statement as you may. it is awful. dismissiveness on any front is counterproductive, racist & vicious. it & money are the reasons why force & protest work, but don’t.

the pervasiveness & subtly, blatant overcasts of white male privilege create this protection of racial anarchists & terrorists that continue to invade the space of Black people. we are forced into these confined spaces where we have to dance around egos, cultures, comforts, ignorance, & learned hatred. we have to cater to the needs of people outside so that if we choose, we can support what happens in the places that we came from.

we let the wills of others drive our reason for living. our mental health is not a priority. we shout in the streets with illness & unconsciousness that is deadly to the soul & the community.

the modernization of white supremacy is the reason why I mean it when I say don’t touch my hair. in high school I decided to wear my hair naturally with my afro all picked out. I attended a predominantly white boarding school where I found that some people would be distant from me for reasons unknown or whatever you want to call it. but all of a sudden, when I decide to wear my fro, people wanted to grab my attention just to touch my crown, people I never associated with (people who let me know that they did not respect me as young Black lady with no apologies for my criticism of the system).

but most importantly, the people who weren’t there to defend themselves in classes or at lunch tables with me were why I stayed. I knew that I owed it to my people & to my potential to stay in an environment that challenged me with micro-aggressions that even some of my peers who identified as Black at this institution strongly disagreed with.

we cannot let our narrative continue to be shaped by those that hold the systematic forces in their hands to an extent.

we have to call out the people who allow us to be displaced across the place. it’s not just happening in one city, town or state. it is happening all over the country. we must realize how important it is to stay disciplined when we talk about solidarity across state lines. we stand up when we are killed by them especially when we know it was for no reason when the videos come out.

now we may not see these videos anymore. another legislative move that is touching down in some states or will soon. 19 states are included on the list including: Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada (state has another law for state Highway Patrol Division), New Hampshire, North Carolina (effective October 1, 2016), North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Other states have proposed this legislation. apparently it is to preserve the rights of the families, officers, etc. a police officer is a public servant expected to uphold & treat citizens with rights who are under apprehension. if they act outside of this resulting in the loss of life, the public should have access to this. we usually don’t see anyone charged until videos are turned over to sources or it is captured on Facebook Live.

 

That is why this is so important. We must act to exercise our rights but break some rules beginning with shattering our silence.

 

 

 

shaunteris

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