I often find myself telling friends and anyone who can hear that while I am often derided and or ridiculed for being weird, outspoken and too truthful, people often rely on my insight to assist them with inviting and managing change.
The one fear that consistently rears its head is that I will be rendered invisible.
As a young child, the misguided and miserable adults often vacillated between invisibility and ridicule and domination.
Many of us who get punished for truth telling and my favorite youth time activity (pointing out inconsistencies shared by adults), learn early that invisibility can both hurt and provide a place of safety and refuge.
Many of us bargain how much visibility is allowed based on where we are and the likelihood of being emotionally damaged.
Those of us who have been attacked because our insight and brilliant questioning minds bring attention have learned the consequences of visibility.
My family members and other unenlightened folks have spent many years reminding me that my “intelligence” will cause problems.
There has rarely been a focus on the world’s inability to invite critical thought which invites change. Minorities and those on the “outside” are very aware that when you can be seen you can be hurt.
We often struggle with the possibilities that can be created.
We ask : Is it worth it ? What will my family say ? How will I survive ? Will this cause alienation from all that is familiar and communal ?
Those of us who have fought hard to be ourselves and spent any amount of relevant time developing inner resources (strategies of resistance) understand the consequences involved with fighting to be seen and hold onto ourselves at the same time.
It is time for all of us to change how and why we see black men.
Being afraid of being seen invites shame and at some point an outburst designed to eliminate shaming and create a space to be seen as human.
We often don’t recognize this concoction until someone has been killed.
We wait and hope that things will work themselves out knowing that there must be something we can do and yet the thought of greater visibility which might make “me” the next victim silences our angst.
As a culture it is time that we encourage all of our citizens to be seen and then collectively wrestle with images that we don’t understand, are threatened by or want to eliminate.
Only with honestly sharing our collective blindness will we then be able to disengage it.
Previously published on Anthony-Carter.com.
Photo Credit: Getty Images