In the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury verdict, new contributor Lisa ‘Afropunk’ Grayson was compelled to reflect upon her American Experience.
I have been called a ‘nigger’ to my face in my own country. I realized early on as a child that I was ‘other’. I realized in middle school that I was the ‘colored girl who considered suicide or when the rainbow is enough.’ then in my twenties I re-invented myself, idealistically, as a ‘bullet-proof diva.’ I was born into suffering.
I remember Tawana Brawley when I lived in New York City and she was characterized a liar, less a victim. Black girls are liars. White women are victims. I remember the central park jogger and the five young brothers who were wrongly convicted of her rape. I remember the Rodney king riots in LA, the riots that followed Oscar and Trayvon, and then again with Michael.
It is cyclic, it is continuous; that racism and fear of young black men and boys is so embedded in the American psyche. What angers me most is that the same rules just don’t apply to her other, non-white citizens. Despite all the rhetoric, ideology, and anti-discrimination policies – it is accepted to stop a black boy or shoot a black boy without cause whether he is a probable suspect or not. They are always a threat and in a group, an even greater more menacing threat.
I have relationships with white men, and eventually we get into conversations about race. I may ask, ‘what’s it like being a white man?’ or they may ask, ‘why do you have so many hair care products in your bathroom?’ I want a glimmer of what a person’s experience is like to walk around without being questioned. A friend once told me his ancestors owned slaves and he was deeply troubled by this fact.
‘Imagine,’ I said. ‘ Being a slave.’
I suppose I want to cut to the chase. Impose upon them that we are inherently different by race, culture, and experience. To clarify, I am for my people, even if I do dig Punk Rock and Downton Abbey. Still, I love my people, myself. I love the men, women, and the youth. We’re not the whole wide world for certain, but we are a large, dynamic, and charismatic part of it. We have magic in us; which could be defined by the ability to suffer and survive, to be stone cold dap, or the creation of the Blues, to be alone with our loneliness and our wounds. I have relatives who to spend time with is like an experience between a tragedy and a bad BET sitcom. I was at one gathering where this chick pinky walked in the room and said, ‘what the fuck yall niggas doing?’
The white version is ‘ hey, what are you guys doing?’ Although some colloquialisms are familiar to me, does not mean that I prescribe to that ethos. If I use profane language it’s usually with a sense of irony, indignation, or sarcasm. Tonight, I was tracking the guardian for the grand jury verdict in Ferguson. I was exasperated, but still not surprised. I became profane. I am angry and disappointed. America is such a vulgar place.
I’m working on the north coast now and I befriended this black dude, Aaron, originally from LA. It was reassuring to find someone who understood that feeling of otherness in a college town equal parts liberal hippie and fish and game conservatives. Aaron took me to lunch one day.
‘ Just be in a position to protect yourself,’ he said. ‘ But don’t show your ass.’ he said. ‘ Don’t be better than the white folks here. All that kumbaya is some bullshit. They want to maintain control and you can’t be a threat, even if you’re better at doing what they do. ‘
‘ Dude, that’s disturbing.’
‘Girl, it’s the truth. Just be cool and you’ll be alright.’
America is such a vulgar place. Oscar is gone, then Trayvon, and now Michael. Disposable young black lives; the wrong race, in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt this sort of injustice and irrational inequality will ever change. I’ve come to the reconciliation that black people have to change for their to be change within society. We need resources and power. The current social order has been effective and profitable for a very long time. No one can save us but ourselves. If we think differently, critically, and educate ourselves the better equipped the youth will be to navigate the side-eyed glances, the random stops, and the judgments. I don’t necessarily mean an awareness of the law, of our civil rights, but the impact history has had upon our ancestors and us. Self-awareness the “thug” is the “sambo” of the 21st century. The slave and the nigger were creations of white people. The African is a creation of the self. Did anyone ever tell Michael or Oscar or Trayvon I wonder, that they were by descent, African? That they were descendants of the most hardcore survivors in history? Would that have in some way altered their fates?
I want the young folks to live. That to me is the greatest, most poetic revenge against history. I’m tired of race, I’m through with death, and I’m worn out by hatred. I have been called a nigger to my face. Run, nigger, run. America is such a vulgar and violent place.
Editor’s note: All language is as originally used by the author.
Art Credit – demesamis.com
Originally published at: http://www.demesamis.com/blogs/news/7111146-reloveution