It’s good to see you.
I should start off by saying that I’m kind of on this mission. It’s a mission of love. Truthfully and honestly, there’s not enough love in this world, but there’s a good amount of ignorance.
With that said, earlier today you asked me a question. A very peculiar question. You asked me why Black people are so unhappy. You may not have asked me directly, but I felt pretty compelled to come and have this discussion with you.
Well, Blake, I honestly don’t know where to start, but I’ve gathered some of my thoughts that could maybe, at the very least, answer some of that question.
Let me level with you real quick.
I’m poor, Blake. I’m not talking about I had to be driven to school in a Range Rover instead of a Cadillac Escalade poor. I’m talking about I can’t even travel poor. I’m saying that I can’t even take the train because a Metrocard swipe is too expensive poor. I’m talking like thank God for school cuz that’s a steady meal poor, Blake. I’m sayin’ I had to live on a futon in my living room just so that I could have my own space poor, Blake. Me, my family and all my niggas gotta work jobs and none of them legal poor! I got one parent, Blake. She work to the bone poor, Blake. She work to give me shit she ain’t ever had, Blake. I had iPhones cuz of that woman and she still thinks me and my siblings deserve more. She frustrated shit ain’t that different poor, Blake. I’m frustrated I can’t give her more than what she got poor, Blake. You understand that? You understand where I’m coming from?
Did you know the schools in my community are trash too? I don’t learn nothin’ for nothin’ Blake. All I do is sit. I might as well already be locked up since these walls look more like a jail than a school. These teachers don’t believe in me. These teachers look down on me. These teachers don’t even teach and they still want their jobs, Blake. There’s no opportunity. There’s no connections. The streets funneled me into those public schools. The streets permeated those public schools. My public schools funnel my people back into the streets and into jail. Ain’t no fundin’ in these schools, my guy. All my books tattered. All the money goes to the white public schools cuz they’re all funded on property taxes and the property in my hood ain’t worth shit.
Speaking of my hood, my streets are full of people with no hope. Hope is a commodity that runs scarce where I’m from, Blake. There’s drugs, Blake. I done seen family members on drugs. I done seen family members ruined by drugs. I done seen my people have their lives ruined over weed and now there are white people making billions off the same plant! Isn’t that crazy, Blake?! Doesn’t the irony mess with you a little bit? Or is it the bias? I don’t know man, like I said, my schools are trash. People are quick to redline all of us into one spot then undermine my hood and the conditions we live in and then go right around and recolonize our asses cuz the land cheap.
The government poisons our water, Blake! Look at Flint, Blake! That’s not even a conspiracy anymore!
They kickin’ us out our homes, Blake!
I got landlords not givin’ heat! You ever spent stayed up all night on Christmas Eve cuz you shiverin’ and not cuz you excited? I got landlords destroyin’ my apartment sayin’ they doin’ repairs! You ever have a little brother get asthma attacks cuz of all the dust in the air the construction workers spread? I got landlords sendin’ people to come strong-arm my mom into movin’! You ever have grown men come harass you and have the super snoop in your apartment when you not home?!
They gentrifyin’ my shit, Blake! Where am I supposed to live?! Where do I go?! How much further out the city do I go?! A fuckin’ Starbucks popped up on my block. White people left the city for the suburbs then came back for the city while never leaving the suburbs!
Blake, where are you going? Take a seat. You asked me a question and I’m here to answer it. Look, I lost my cool and I don’t mean to attack you. It’s just a lot, you know? Life is hard and I’m just trying to breathe. You don’t know where I come from, but explaining it just brings up a bunch of emotions. Just give me a chance to finish.
Anyway, honestly man, all that shit is life. It’s hard, but it’s real. And if I’m being completely real, it’s more bearable so long as I have my people. We’re gonna keep fighting for equality, but I find happiness in my home. I find my happiness in my hood. I find my happiness in the hearts of my loved ones.
But that’s the thing, Blake, they’re gettin’ executed. People wanna say this that and the third but real talk they gettin’ lynched. That’s what police brutality is: modern day lynchings, Blake.
You see, when Black people got emancipated White people got threatened. Their property was let go, they gradually became citizens, they gradually got more rights. The White man’s rule was put in jeopardy, so he resorted to the most gruesome way of keeping control. He destroyed the Black body. He took trophies home in the aftermath. He annihilated the spirit and its connections to this world. He justified his actions by spreading this fear, this narrative that the Black body was a vessel of criminality. A super-predator by today’s standards. A Black person was found guilty, locked up and released to the mob, even if he was innocent the whole time. Even if he did what was told of him.
What’s different now? They shoot us. They don’t try to save us. They take paid leave home as their trophies. They use the media to make us out as criminals. They ignore the videos and don’t get indicted.
Or we silently get locked up.
How am I supposed to be happy? How am I supposed to be happy when I’m scared for the one life I got? How am I supposed to be happy when they take my family from me?
We honor the martyrs until they’re recognized as just that.
It’s willful ignorance that continues this violence. This is why we chant “Black Lives Matter.” We won’t stop until you hear us and we won’t stop until you understand us!
I’m not saying you, as an individual, are guilty of this. I’m not here to punish you, but I do want to enlighten you. With that said, you have to stay educated. You have to be cognizant. You have to know the narrative. There are ideologies that get rid of the love in the world. Ignorance is just as bad as enabling those who commit this social, and physical, racial violence.
There it is, Blake. That’s why I’m unhappy.
When they shot my cousin Michael Brown in the back, I raged through the streets.
When I saw them choke my Uncle Garner, I mourned him with my relatives.
When I heard they killed my Aunt Bland, my heart broke.
When they murdered my little brother Tamir, I cried silently.
Look at all the family they’ve lynched since then, look at Terence Crutcher…
I’ve grown numb.
I’m gonna stop talking now. I wanna hear you out, and understand where you come from too. So yeah, is there anything you wanted to say?
Author’s note: This piece was written in response to an Overheard at Yale post that quoted a person saying, “I just don’t understand why Black people are so unhappy,” this past Tuesday. A statement like this is evidence of the disconnect between narratives of the privileged and the oppressed. It also conveys a lack of empathy and awareness of the endangerment of the Black body and its life, given its proximity to the recent Terence Crutcher shooting.
This was an attempt to put forth some of that narrative to those who would not normally be exposed to it. With that said, I don’t speak for all Black people, and this is not the uniform narrative. The Black community is diverse and has many narratives, but we all potentially face police brutality no matter our walk of life. This abject situation of urban poverty is something I’m familiar with, and even though I put some of my experiences in this piece, this is not a window into my life. I borrowed from the lives of others to make this more holistic and real.
I would also find it amiss not to mention the narratives of oppression of other groups in America while I have the News as a platform to spread awareness. I implore those who have read this to educate themselves on: the continued oppression of Native Americans, the hypocrisy and hateful nature of Islamophobia, the true value and honor that immigrants bring to this country, and the pervasiveness and toxicity of sexual assault on and off college campuses.