the gravity of silence

I did not want to write this blog. I did not want to dig into the brokenness of my spirit, but I had to. A cathartic experience was necessary for my self-care and mental health.   

Last week was one of the most trauma filled weeks of my life - akin to burying my own flesh and blood. Not one, not two, but three black men were shot and killed by law enforcement. In front of children and loved ones. On camera. Murdered. By men who are employed to protect us. My earnest prayer is to not learn of another casualty before this blog is published.

My deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the fallen Dallas officers. But let me be clear, this blog is about #blacklivesmatter and how y'all go absolutely mute when it's a black life, but y'all real quick to jump in with "all lives matter" when the victim isn't a person of color. Who is this "y'all" I speak of? Well, keep reading and if the shoe fits, buy it in every color. Furthermore, if all lives truly matter, why do you not acknowledge our hurt when black lives are snuffed out? And can I break this down so it can forever be broke - the sentiment of #blacklivesmatter is #blacklivesmatterToo. We fully appreciate that every life is precious, but there is now a movement around this because of the blatant disregard for black lives. Capisce?

In a matter of days;

Alton Sterling was selling CDs. Dead

Philando Castille was driving while black, with a permit to carry. Dead

Alva Braziel had a gun in an open carry state.  Dead. And before you form your lips to say something about him (allegedly) pointing his gun at officers, let us not forget the many examples of white men taunting officers with weapons and they live to see another day. 

All of this is unbelievable trauma to the psyche. Blow after blow. My initial post cited more names and circumstances, but tears were filling up my coffee mug, so I went with the most recent. How can any human being hear these stories (repeatedly) and try to come up with a narrative that makes the deceased the villain? Incident after incident after incident. Do y'all not see a pattern? Can't you see our black and brown boys and men are being slaughtered out of fear?! This is the kind of traumatic stress loop black folks are constantly negotiating. We walk around wondering if there is anything we can do differently. Will respectability keep me alive? Should I wear my hair in a bun instead of a headwrap? A blazer instead of a hoodie? How do we talk to the children about interacting with cops? How do I exude "safe negro"?

To add insult to injury, because of the deafening silence from non-people of color, we find ourselves whispering, speaking in code, and talking in stairwells to keep you comfortable. So in the midst of processing our trauma, we are negotiating your peace. We're asked benign questions about the previous day, and have to choke down tears to give you an appropriate (social/workplace) response. Funny (not funny) how there was no mention of these horrific murders, but hours of chatter were spent on a news story about a damn gorilla. We can't even get a "that's crazy".  Heartbreaking. 

People of color consistently lend support and voice to other movements and tragedies, but what if we didn't? What would any of this look like if we didn't change our profile pictures/use the hashtag of the day/pray? Maybe you truly don't know what to say, but I can assure you, your silence says everything. Reconstruct your message.