The year is 2015.
2015 has been a year of collective consciousness building, even for those who do not consider themselves to be deeply engaged in sociopolitical issues. It is a zenith of racial conflict marked by nationwide police misconduct and police killings against young black and brown people. These killings follow the same brutal pattern: lies by local police departments, uncovering brutal video evidence, anger, mourning, protests, media excuses for why the person deserved their death, non-indictment, mourning, repeat. Next hashtag.
As this cycle of killings and the media dehumanization to follow underscores the historical inequity of black Americans, we are reminded of the lasting impact Two hundred fifty years of slavery, Ninety years of Jim Crow, Sixty years of separate but equal, and Thirty-five years of racist housing policy have on the current state of racial injustice, economic disparities and mass incarceration and all.
We are at a crossroads: white silence is now consent. In the same breath of consciousness building and white allyship support, racists have come out to play, adding insult to injury on the longstanding institutional and systemic inequity which makes white supremacy possible in a country built off the backs of black labor. Pillage in its truest form – to not only take from one group through violent enslavement, but to then deny said group from entire services in society through the unnerving policies of Jim Crow.
With a rise in white nationalistic sentiment ushered in by the racist identity politics driven campaign of Trump, and the leftist working class campaign of Sanders coupled with unrelenting Black activism pushing for radical national reform, our country is on the brink of socialism and fascism all at once.
2015 has been the tragedy, uprise, and enlightenment of the American Negro. Sandra Bland, the Charleston Nine, Spring Valley, McKinney, Freddie Gray, come to my mind; the names and events I let fade from remembrance are not the result of insensitivity but my desire for preservation and sanity, actualized through self-care. For all people of color reading: preserve your sanity at all costs. You are worth more than the work.
In response to tragedy we’ve seen uprising, through the realm of Black Twitter and grassroot activism, rallies and protests screaming “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” from the streets of Baltimore, Chicago, Ferguson, and Oakland. On the campuses of Mizzou, Ithaca, and Yale, the power of direct action has forced resignation of presidents and institutional commitments. Black millenials are rising and responding to outrage in a deep dedication to liberation.
As 2016 ushers in a crucial political race and the closing of the Obama era, I have no expectations. As a Black American accustomed to the country’s unique predilection with racial injustice, I’ve transitioned from anger this year by relishing in the resilience and love that is Blackness. I live through immersing myself in Black cultural space, art, and media and engaging in stories of Black excellence, Serena Williams, John Boyega, Misty Copeland included. Despite the comfort I’ve found in emotional preservation, I cannot pretend that our country and it’s violence does not boggle the mind. Beneath my Coates-ian self-preservation narrative I forget that the capacity for violence is human, American, and patriotic at once. Pillage is what American patriotism means. To love this country is to acknowledge that inequality is not some dirty hidden laundry, trapped in the closet, skeleton of sorts. It is alive, well, and breathing. The past is never dead. It exists in the microaggressive curiousity a white friend places upon a black girl’s name, the downcast look of a hooded black twelve year old as he passes a city cop, and in the checks that never seem to make ends meet for the brown mother of three in Philly.
The past is now. Here’s to another year of learning, growing, and changing into my purpose. Here’s to another year of black, conscious, rage.
“I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made of our bodies.” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me