I’m intelligent. I have perspective, can put events and people in context. I know what’s happening in my country is #NotAllCops, but the latest video making the rounds (a teenage girl of color violently dragged from her high school desk by a cop for having a cell phone) makes me livid to the point of catatonia. It’s hard to concentrate, or work effectively, when the men in the white hats are exuding pure darkness. I resent the force hired to protect us, and coldness is setting in. They face danger in doing their jobs…. And?
I don’t want to feel this way; I don’t want to pass beat cops with disgust, or look through them as if transparent, or feel indifferent as to their safety. But I’m human, and I can only see people who look like me abused, assaulted, and killed for so long before the rage bubbles up. I don’t want to call them in an emergency. I don’t want to see their uniforms, I don’t want to trust them to be the good guys, New York’s “finest” (as vague a term as I’ve ever heard). From what I’ve learned this summer, I shouldn’t drive, lean against a hotel, attend a BBQ, turn my back in a wheelchair. And I *definitely* shouldn’t be a teen with a cell phone in school. To quote a friend, I should basically avoid “blacking while black.” Where does it leave me?
Currently it leaves me with resentment, bitterness, numbness. It leaves me with a humanity I struggle to hold together as its foundation is tested almost daily. It makes me feel less like myself and more like a stranger who wants to spit epithets & demand retribution. All of which would undoubtedly give those cloaked in blue an easy fallback that I’m disgruntled, violent, needing to be locked up. And as we know, even a local jail may be a death sentence.
What I can do now is take breaks. From media, social or otherwise. From the endless parade of videos. A traffic stop gone wrong. A stop and frisk gone wrong. A cell phone mistaken for a gun are you f*cking kidding me gone wrong. I’m meditating, and praying, and leaning on my humor and the humor of my friends, because I feel threatened. Not in a vague sense. I feel directly threatened as a black woman in this country, and currently, ironically, and unhappily, I have to choose to ignore the plight of others some days to save my sanity. I feel off balance, traitorous, cold blooded. In this way I survive. Every day I hope to do more than that, but for today, my armor is thick. It weighs me down, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s what I have. I want to move through the world today safe. Time will tell if I do.