I’d Rather Go Blind (or) . . . an Ode to James Baldwin

I have to start this blog by saying, I’ve never finished a James Baldwin novel.  I was SUPPOSED to in my Race in American Lit class in 11th grade . . .but youth. I have to also say, I’ve lived my live on the fringe of “Black Consciousness.” Meaning, I knew the world was fucked up.  I just chose to not let the fuckedupedness {yes, that is indeed a word} affect me.  Sadly, 2014 happened.  Actually, to be honest, 2008 happened . . . but we will get there.

I’ve stated on more than one occasion, I was raised strangely.  I had access to my history.  I knew my family’s history, and the history of my people.  Not because I went to the best schools {even though that helped} or because I was so well read {again, that did help}, but because my mother made sure I knew.  I didn’t know other people didn’t watch Eyes on the Prize on a yearly basis until college.

Best. Series. Ever.

Best. Series. Ever.

I’m not just talking about a casual glace, I mean we planned our WEEK around it showing on PBS.  Homework was done at school, so that i didn’t have to do it at home.  We sang all the protest songs while we were cooking dinner, and we sat down together to watch it.  I knew who the Little Rock Nine were before the Disney Movie came out.  I used to love Thurgood Marshall because he looked like my Great Uncle.

So it’s not that I didn’t know that racism and discrimination existed in the world.  I just didn’t have to deal with it.  I lived in Detroit, but I went to school in the suburbs.  All my friends were white.  If they weren’t white, they were something that wasn’t Black.  I’ve been the minority my whole life, even within my circle of friends.  Racism was a concept I understood, and had never really encountered until my then best friend’s father found out I was Black.

I'm referring to the white one . . .

I’m referring to the white one . . .

I’d been calling their house the entirety of Freshman Year. The minute the buddy pictures came back, the “secret” was revealed.  This man, whom I had spoken to at length whenever I had called their home, who always asked how I was doing and about my family, suddenly didn’t want his child to spend time with me.  He didn’t want her to drive to my home (even though I lived in the suburbs {better suburbs than them}), he told her not to interact with me at all.  Because I had tricked him! I didn’t “talk Black,” so how was he supposed to know I was invading his daughter’s life and setting such a bad example.  Her dad was an asshole, and he was racist, and he was born in a time when both of those were the norm.

United Colors of Benneton . . .

United Colors of Benetton . . .

Racism didn’t become real to me until affected my paycheck.  I blogged about it, feel free to check it out {here, and here,} Even still it wasn’t something that permeated.  They were #IsolatedIncidents. The world is a better place in the 21st century.  We elected a Black President for crying out loud.  People stood in a voting booth, and said we put our faith in that proud and self-identifiying Black Man, with his Beautiful Black Wife and Children.  The world has changed for the better! Or so we thought . . .

This was my morning board in my classroom for a WEEK!

This was my morning board in my classroom for a WEEK!

What we didn’t know, while we were shouting in the streets, and hugging each other with pride and glee . . . was some folks was MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD! WHEW, they was so mad! About life, and everything that was in it. And every time he made a difference, made a change, and potentially helped someone less fortunate than them . . . the anger built. And Bulit. AND BUILT. And for me, being able to ignore the undercurrents of racism was getting harder and harder.  Those names started adding up, and my memories of Eyes on the Prize starting connecting those dots.  From Rodney King, to Malice Green, to Sean Bell, to Oscar Grant, to Trayvon Martin.

Thank God for Black Twitter . . .

Thank God for Black Twitter . . .

Social Media ruined my life! Because I wasn’t just getting my news from CNN anymore.  I had minute my minute updates on things going on all over the country.  Every new name on the list had a hastag, and a story behind that wasn’t being censored by the media.  Suddenly, I had to acknowledge that my bubble had been popped, stepped on, and destroyed.  The anger started to build. And Build. AND BUILD. Why are they killing young children? Why are people so angry? Why do they hate us so much? Why do they work SO HARD to make sure we stay down? Why is no one paying attention?!?! Why does Don Lemon exist on Television?

I . . . loathe . . . you

I . . . loathe . . . you

Why are Black Men Thugs and White Men “troubled” and “mentally unstable?” Why are Black children a threat? Why is CNN reporting a Riot, when Black Twitter is live streaming police being the aggressors? Why are the only pictures of Mike Brown him looking like a “gangsta?” Why does the Republican run government shoot down anything the President attempts to to to a vote? Why is everyone on Fox News an Asshole? Why do I only trust Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Rachel Maddow?

He Follows ever member of Black Twitter . . .

He Follows ever member of Black Twitter . . .

Why am I TERRIFIED every time I’m pulled over by a police officer? Why do I have to have conversations with all my clients about the dangers of expressing your opinions when dealing with certain kinds of people? Why do I fear for all of the children I work with who were raised in Happy Tucson, and don’t know who the rest of the world sees them? Why did I lose friends because of my reaction to Ferguson? Why was Ferguson the scariest thing I’d ever experienced as an American . . . not September 11th?

2014

2014

I can’t un-see those videos of Black Men AND WOMEN being abused by the people we pay to protect us.  I can’t un-know that 2015 is more like 1964.  I can’t un-experience someone walking in a church and shooting 9 people, because of the color of their skin.  I can’t un-cry those tears of frustration when conversing with people about my pain.

I’d Rather Go Blind.  I’d Rather be Deaf.  I’d Rather be Dumb.

I’m Afraid. I’m Angry.  I’m Hurt.

There is no time to heal. There is no time to recover from seeing Michael Brown’s body in the middle of a street.  There is no way to unwatch John Crawford III getting shot down for HOLDING a gun while talking on the phone. I can’t BREATHE! I can’t catch my breath, because it’s happening everyday.  Twice a day. The list continues to grow.

blackfaces

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

– James Baldwin

This. Is. America.  This is being Black in America. This is Depressing as All the Hells.

This Is My Experience.  

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Thank You For Reading.

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