Strides feel heavy, I fear the very street I live on. I consider myself lucky, the man shot by the cop on tv is of a far lighter shade than I am. Yes, somehow it feels his shade mattered, because that’s the only rationalization I could come up with. My mom’s entire paternal side would all be sentenced to death just on that basis. Dark, and not of any kind, Ebony shiny dark: my heritage.
So I limp, face down. I cannot explain the startled look of the guy walking across me, he’s into crossfit, I saw him there do some kind of hybrid jumping jacks, in a fight, I’d have no luck, that scissor kick of his looks deadly. Yet right on that street, I can see his lane shift.
Who could blame the lady crossing the street. The first few times the optimist I am, thinks that’s just her route, but after a year, that’s so many routes, eh. On a lucky day, wearing a suit, midday, I may catch a break. But today with the two grocery bags, my laptop backpack, i’m still the rapist she fears; how I know? I asked.
I play this elevator pitch game in my head, the 10 things I could tell someone really fast to take away that look, or perhaps seem normal. Sometimes I give it “a many” benefit of the doubt, but then I read that facebook comment. People I don’t know, whose opinion of my kind is so dark, I can’t phantom. If it was up to them, my race would be annihilated.
You’ve all heard that skit, stuff, insert demographics, say to black people. This is not that. Neither is it about showing statistics of the effects of incarceration of African American males in their society. It is a too deep topic to expand on social injustice, misinformation, zero tolerance policing that is literally raiding black neighborhoods. We could debate the sins of each male that recently got killed by police, none angels, but may the non-sinner cast the first stone. Each of these are loaded with political agenda and even rhetoric. We could talk about the despicable acts of the youth of my city Baltimore, but very few will understand the misguided pain they feel, and how the outburst was a cry, generations, disfavored, I don’t expect you to cut them any slacks, some of those acts were criminal and punishable by law.
It is okay if you do not understand. I only call on you as a fellow human being. One who gives me a chance as a person and not as a movement, not as a misrepresentation of an image of what it means to be an African American Male, but only of the conclusion you would make of me.
I have a positive attitude on life, despite the lemons i’ve gone strong. I don’t wince, but this is such at the core of my undeniable right as a human, pleading for the right to coexist, in welfare, not killed, not feared, not demeaned, not undermined. As absurd as it is, it’s the silent fight I lead.
I approach my keyboard, I get on my soap box, my first instinct is to say it all caps, but i’ve seen this movie a thousand times. I can relate to that anger, sometimes I am that angry, but I’ve seen the aghast look on people’s faces, oh no he is going there. Astute diplomat that my parents taught me to be knows better.
I wish it’s the only outcast story I had to tell but to most i’m a sold out because my pain is not anger, my pain is reluctant, borderline naive. I rebuke the hurdles in my life. I am aware of the amount of extra work to gain recognition, and I’m not shy to keep trying, til it cracks. This could be mistaken as resignationnbut I see it as activism, perhaps if I could show it through my trade and craft, i’ll get dignity, and perhaps i can pay it forward someday, to the human dignity of my kind.
I did not help my case with whom I chose to love. I could tell the thousand and one tales of how I’ve tried to find an African queen but it’s not even fair as to the angel she is, that looks after me, upholds me, when many nights spent wondering about love, I make no apologies of how I found it, and with whom I found it.
I believe Black lives do matter, and I wish I could say all lives matter without feeling the burgeoning hiss of betrayal. neither does it deafen me to the dismissive tone when some usher those words, I can hear the loud and underlying shut your trap. I’m fatigued too. Everyday I live my life is different, even for the days I wake up, new, positive and freed of my burdens, by the end of the day, I will have an encounter, that would silence me right into consternation.
The increasing frustration is that I do not seek to be treated any better, hell I could care for a leveling field, sole wish is to not come from so behind. From Gamla Stan, in Sweden, to Ankara, Turkey, my heritage is a burden. On every flight, or plight, sole mission to convey the message to humanity, like the good word. Baffling, it’s so hard to comprehend that the color of my skin is a biological phenomenon directly correlated to UVR distribution, and mere cultural heritage. We are so unique and so different in our fabric. From the creoles in Haiti, to the Fulani erring the northern part of Africa, to my old neighbor Anton fifth generation baltimorean, to the aborigines, or to tyrone of Atlanta, second generation born African, or to the mixed, you know president, but it’s been so hard to break the stigma, evince the stain.
Like you I dream, my fears are those of gray skinned cats. Me and my sister played this game called, little sister, where we would lift drapes and tie it around our head, dreaming of the little sister we both wanted but never got. The sweet memories of my childhood were made on a swing, behind a papaya tree. My mom is dear to me, but also a royal pain in the rear end. I have a healthy quota for taking her calls. I have a weird tick, when i’m nervous I wink. Yet, not a day in my life I do not approach the mirror with caution, because the more ordinary thing about my life is when I try to convince myself it is ordinary.
Make no mistake, I do not seek pity. I’m proud of my heritage. the rhythm in my veins, the warmth of my skin. I’m proud of the nappy hair and spotty beard. I find comfort in the eyes of those who love me, there’s a place where I belong, and I have a warranted purpose to my life and despite the odds, in my misery I live happy days. like a serious illness it ought not to be on your mind at every breath, at times you may even forget, like the monkey ladder experiment, are we perpetuating a ritual we falsely inherited; not all is lost, my cure is faith in humanity. It is faith in you, it is faith that today you will tell someone my story. I’m restless and unsettled, I want my generation to be one of compassion and understanding.
“I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”