Y’all just can’t front on us niggas no more
Police can’t keep pulling these triggers
Won’t go for that shit much longer…
“Sunkissed," Mick Jenkins
At this crucial time in our lives when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival I don’t think you can help but be involved…We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I don’t think you have a choice. – Nina Simone
I am writing from a place of intense anguish and rage. I am naming this sentiment clearly, lest there be any confusion.
Today is the day the police killing of Philando Castile has made the headlines, which is the day after the police killing of Alton Sterling rose to national attention. Reeling from another round of blows against we who are darker than blue, I am convinced that there needs to be new language—new terms to describe the tumultuous emotional landscape that erupts for so many Black persons when another one of our slaughtered bodies bleeds out in our streets or in our cars or on our couches or in our beds or on our playgrounds or in the halls of our apartment buildings or hangs lifelessly from a garbage bag in a jail cell. There is no single word that I know of to describe the simultaneous unsurprised surprise, the "angrief," the hopeless defiance, the wounded wrath that floods one’s entire being when unmitigated, virulent, state-sanctioned, White supremacist power and violence shows itself in another public execution. The visceral response to these acts of systemic annihilation, to this structured hatred, defies categorization. The emotion is a mystery, like trying to speak to the totality of God or the character of love in a single utterance. Yet I feel it in my body as I write to the White Majority upon whom this nation’s Klan Culture relies and through whom the plague of Black death continues.
If you are unwilling to be and uninvolved in struggling daily for reparation, restitution, and ripping out at the root the oppressive structures that have created your very life, that sustain your very being, that make your place in this society possible, then you are integral to the problem.
If you are unwilling to be and uninvolved in educating yourself and coming to terms with your death-dealing history and the ways in which your Whiteness operates in the present as a means of imagining and deploying new possibilities, then you are a part of the machine.
If you are unwilling to be and uninvolved in engaging, confronting, witnessing to, challenging and sabotaging the overtly White Supremacist Minority that make up your community, either out of shame for their existence or unwarranted pride at your own sophistication, then you are a part of the breeding ground for brutality.
If you are uninvolved in protest and provocation instigated by Black and other nonwhite communities and their woke comrades, and unwilling to put yourself in the same line of unfriendly White fire that threatens and targets we marginalized peoples—if you are unwilling to reallocate your time, your priorities, your money, your agendas, your plans, your worship, your power to tend to the Black blood crying out from the soil—then you too are responsible for holding together the Klan Culture that suffocates and destroys.
It is not enough to be “nice.” It is not enough to mean well. It is not enough to pray. It is not enough to be committed. It is not enough to like our culture or use our slang or appropriate our dress or admire our resilience. It is not enough to shut up and listen. It is not enough to speak out of turn and without sound analysis. You must have your very skin, your teeth and nails and minds, in the thick of the fight. The system was made for you. It continues to benefit you. And it is your job to do what you can to bring it down—if you actually want to see it fall.
As I spent the day and night haunted by this week’s round of losses, Jesus’s hard saying in Luke 14:26 came to me in a new way, illuminated as it was by this present darkness: “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”
Either you will hate the generations of Whiteness that has brought us to this place and the legacy on which your world is built, either you will hate White violence and power in all of its manifestations, either you will hate this antiBlack society and the order of things that makes peace between us impossible, or you will have no true freedom. Either you will hate the life that you live at the expense of others, relinquish your hold and be propelled toward a new direction, or you will miss the new creation that is to come: that is already on the way if we who strive for liberation have anything to say about it. And we do.
There is no neutral. There are no clean hands. You are either a keeper of Klan Culture and facilitator in the destruction of Philando, Alton, Tamir, Rekia, Trayvon, Sandra, John, Aiyana, Michael and Insert Name Here, or part of the struggle that refuses to accept this arrangement in its bald and latent forms. The in-between that you occupy is not an in between at all: it is an extension of a politics designed to destroy Black existence and the existence of any other nonwhites who get caught in the fray. Choose to stand against this oppression or consider yourself enlisted to oppress.
Those who have hearts to hear, let them.