Last week was tough.
This week is tough.
Though to be honest, if you’re Black in America, every week is tough in some way. I guess, for some, it’s easy to forget that. When our bodies aren’t being killed in the national spotlight, it’s comforting to think that it’s only those days and surrounding weeks that are hard for us. But the fact is that Black women only make 60 cents on the white man’s dollar. Or that African Americans are incarcerated at six times the rate of whites. This is just the everyday shit. Let’s throw in the fact that I grip my steering wheel in white-knuckled fear each time I’m pulled over for even a minor offense (which, as a white co-worker pointed out to me, has happened more to me at 32, than it has to her at 42.) That’s not new by the way. Being pulled over has always been a scary experience for me as a Black person in the US. The difference is now that white people finally see it and don’t think that I’m making it up.
So as hard as it is to live a carefree life in the US as a person of color, why are people so quick to shut down our good time when a moment of light cuts through our dark clouds?
Last week, Pokemon Go stormed the scene. Unfortunately, the storm clouds came in just as more of our brothers were gunned down by those sworn to protect us. I spent much of last week sad, scared, angry and confused (all at the same time, might I add). How could this still be happening? Would I ever feel truly safe in the country that I proudly call home? But as dark and sad as I felt, I couldn’t let it stop me. I mourned, grieved, talked with friends, read, and wrote. I felt the full spectrum of emotions that my mind and body would let me feel. But there comes a time that I have to stop feeling the negative. I’m not an activist: That would probably kill me. It drains me. I do what I can, but the struggle? I couldn’t get away from it if I tried. And I know too many people who are like me. Who are fighting everyday without wearing boxing gloves. So why are people still making memes like this?:
Why do we still have to explain to EACH OTHER that we’re capable of walking and chewing gum at the same damn time? That we struggle and sing? That we work and play? That we work WHILE we play. Black Lives will always Matter to me because I never stop grinding for Black Lives. My black skin grinds for me.
I’ve always had an approachable face. Strangers have always felt the need to bare every piece of their soul to me within five seconds of meeting. So even if I just want to pick up some salmon at the grocery store, I have to spend 10 minutes of that trip filling a polite, but misinformed elderly woman on why we say BLACK lives matter and not ALL lives matter. And to be honest, I ain’t even mad about it. I’d rather they talk to me than people who are angrier with less patience. Because sometimes my approach changes their mind. I can’t help but fight even when I’m not raising a fist.
Even when I’m out collecting Pokemon and pretending that I’m carefree, I’m knowledgeable that someone may be wondering why I abruptly stopped and report the “suspicious behavior” of a black woman outside. Of course I’m BLM and Pokemon Go. You can’t be black and not wear two hats. Hell, throw in the short, lesbian part and me and Miss Sophia got a lot in common.
Look, play Pokemon or don’t. Watch a “ratchet” reality show or don’t. Far be it from me to tell you how to navigate your self-care. All I know is that if you’re even slightly woke, you need those moments of joy, be it from video games, dance parties, music, or my favorite…pinot noir. But stop spreading these awful memes that imply that Black people are only one thing and if we’re not all doing our best Malcolm X/ Martin Luther King impression, then we’re failures. It’s damaging and hurtful to each other. You imply that we can only be one thing to be successful, and that’s how the bad guys see us. Change your mind so we can change their mind.
What? You didn’t believe us when we said we’re magic?