growing up in racist, segregated kansas city, i was always aware of my blackness. mine was a childhood riddled with the absolute best expressions of black love juxtaposed with the absolute worst expressions of black hate. at 36, i’m growing weary of the american dream because for people who look like me it’s more of a nightmare.
when people see me, they see success. i have graduated from college twice and will begin work toward a phd in the next few years. i excel at work. i lead in my community. i serve those around me. i am able to afford to live the life i desire to live. i am a poster child for success. but my success blinds people to the price i’ve paid to exist.
my community was decimated by drugs and gangs, strategic weapons of the state-led warfare on people who look like me. i have a history of dodging bullets, witnessing gun violence, and burying classmates who fell victim to unmarked bullets.
my education was gutted of higher learning. i was taught by teachers who saw themselves as babysitters for the restless natives, handing out crayons and coloring books rather than leading us in rigorous debates about the racist policies of the american judicial system or the ramifications of a capitalist economy built on the degradation of black bodies. when my classmates and i demanded advance placement classes, our school laughed and said we weren’t smart enough to have them. we staged a walkout and they were implemented the next year.
my social life was a minefield pitted with unwelcomed racist encounters that required me to navigate the journey into adulthood carefully least i say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time and blow up any chances i have at a successful future or living to see old age.
when i hear people say they don’t see color, race is a social construct, stop playing the race card, or everything isn’t about race, i want to shake them and tell them to wake up. wake up. and stay woke.
the mass murder and violent attack of black people in church, on the streets, in the park, at the grocery store, in the mall, in their own homes, at the pool, at school, or on the battle field is intentional. and like the lynchings of the past, serves one purpose – to remind us black folks that we are not wanted, and we don’t belong.
as a christian who believes god truly knew me before i was formed in the womb, i am struggling. i struggle with God knowing that my black skin would make me the target of such immense, generation-spanning hate. i struggle with the ignorance around the depth of this hatred. i struggle with the silence of the church on addressing this spiritual warfare. i struggle with trying to thrive in a system that is based on my failure and if i do succeed i still carry the burden of those who look like me who were never given a chance or opportunity to succeed. “this ain’t livin.”
black is the color of my skin, but grief is the color of my soul. and it has been for a while now. i need the god of heaven to intervene.