Street photographer Daniel Arnold walked backwards through New York's massive Millions March. This is what he saw.
It Had To Be Said

i need you to feel me

we are a country of shouters. the one who shouts loudest, longest wins. wait. that’s not entirely true. you are more likely to win when you have the power to set the perimeters for the shouting – when, where, how, and why. so, to recap, the person who has the power to decide when we can all shout, controls the channels and location where the shouting must take place, and then of course judges the merit of said shouts, wins. god bless america.

this revelation does not stop us from shouting. and over the last decade, the shouting has grown more intense and more frequent. it’s like everyone is screaming, i know you can hear me, but can you feel me? right now, i need you all to feel me.

in this massive dialogue about race that america continues to evade, things have come to a fever pitch. it is clear that we exist in a space in time where the fallacy of a post-racial society has blinded many to the harsh realities of the daily struggles of black and brown people – those with legal status and those without – and pitted them against perceived racial backlash at the power structures that are overwhelmingly white. yes, despite controlling all 500 of the fortune 500 companies, holding 83 percent of the spots in congress, making up 63 percent of the us population, and collectively amassing wealth that is 13 times higher than the wealth of the median black household, white america is under attack.

hide yo wives, hide yo kids, hide yo wallets cuz they takin e’rythang.

as if that isn’t a big enough battle to fight, brown people find themselves in a mix of smaller, but equally passionate, shouting matches about skin complexion, hair texture, what is blackness and who gets to identify as black, and why black men and black women can’t get along. please excuse me for a second while i scream. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. ok. that’s better.

these pointless debates are perfect at distracting us from the real issue at hand – the consistent and effectual denial of our agency, our ability to live and breath and exist in a world that was created for us by our creator, in a country that was built by us and thrives around us absent from our participation on any meaningful scale. we built the dancefloor, hung the decorations, prepared the hors d’oeuvres, and composed the music, but we were denied an invitation to the party.

if you’ve ever had the privilege of being the only kid in the class not invited to the party as i have, you understand exactly what i’m talking about. the sadness goes deep. if you haven’t, i need you to feel me right now. i need you to understand the pain and shame of not being good enough, liked enough, loved enough to get an invite to the party and not being able to do anything about it. that is what it means to be black and brown in america.

likability goes a long way for advancement and if we are able to make ourselves likeable or safe enough for white sensibilities, then we can be granted access to the room, although this is not to be confused with an invitation to sit at the table. i can’t speak for everyone who identifies as black or brown, nor should you ever expect me to, but i can tell you that i have lost my will to play along to get along. i just don’t want to do it any more.

the admission of this fact puts my precarious access to power in danger. i want to run for office one day and trust and believe some sad, pathetic political attack dog is going to go digging on the interwebs one day and come across this blog post and declare that i’m a militant, anti-white, hate-mongerer.

in reality, i am a militant, anti-white supremacy, truth-teller who believes that to be black is nothing short of beautiful and powerful. interpret as you will.

but as audre lord once said, if i don’t define myself for myself i will be crushed into other people’s fantasies of me and eaten alive. while i’m sure i’m quite tasty, i’m not about that cannibal life.

because i know first hand what it means to not get invited to the party, i want to offer an alternate perspective. and i need you to hear me and feel me. there will never be a shortage of parties and there will never be a shortage of snubs for those parties. if we learned nothing from the hurricane of shade thrown at ava duvernay and her movie selma during the award season, it’s that life goes on. black and brown people can’t do anything about the irrational hate thrown at us because of the melanin that so beautifully protects us from the sun. but we can accept that we don’t need the permission of white power structures to thrive. we have within us the power of the creator to speak and make and build and give and produce and distribute again and again and again. we do not need permission to thrive.

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1 Comment

  1. Verily, verily I say unto thee, the times we are in feel biblical. We could open up a bible and turn to anyone of the prophets and find some alignment. More than ever before, we need to love, support and encourage one another. They are trying to wear out the saints! #nopermissionneeded

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