Life Is Not Complicated, Your Silence Is
My wife came into my office this morning and asked, “Are you going to write about this? People should hear your perspective.”
And I looked at her, trying hard not to sound like I did not appreciate her input. I chose my words carefully. I have been so damn mad overall this senseless, wonton, violent treatment of black men and women, and I did not want to take it out on her. Not that she would not understand. Because while I am a black man who knows that every time he leaves the house, the worst can happen, she is the wife and mother of black men who must bear the heavy burden of worry and momentary panic every time she hears “another black man has been murdered by police.”
I finally said to her, “What’s the point?” I’ve written about this same damn thing so many times, so it would basically be the same blog, different name. Just another hashtag. And it will fuel outrage for a few days, and then people will move on. “Say their name,” will turn into “Are we getting another stimulus check?”. It is the short-term memory of people of color that allows these attacks on black men to continue. We rally the week of, protest, the less senseless loot and destroy property (that will never make sense to me by the way), and then our anger dissipates, and we move on to our regularly scheduled programming. So I ask again, “What’s the point?”
On the flip side, I know in my heart that silence also perpetuates the problem. We should be keenly aware of those who say nothing, especially if they are among our circle of friends. Who is speaking out? Who is standing up? Don’t inbox me how upset you are, put it out there. Let the world know you refuse to accept the killing of another black man. It is a necessary and understandable feeling, so who are you trying “not” to offend. Because if the outrage comes with stipulations, I don’t want it. My son does not need your empty platitudes. He needs you to rise up and fight for him. My wife, my daughters, my mother-in-law could care less about your thoughts and prayers. They have that covered. I’ve seen the look on my wife’s face when she watched a racist white cop press his knee so deeply into the fold of George Floyd’s neck, he gasped for air and called out for his mother. She did not have to utter a word. I read it in her eyes: “Jesus, that could be my baby.”
So, rather than just seethe, I decided to write this. Because I can’t be quiet. I share the message when I mentor when I contact my lawmakers, when I speak at group homes, colleges, prisons, and youth groups. Maybe I reach 1000, 100, or just one. But I won’t reach anyone if I remain silent. You might read this, give it a thumbs up, heart or hug emoji, and move on to the next task. You might say, “I have my own problems; we in a damn pandemic.” You might share this blog and start a discussion that may lead to a bigger conversation that may lead to a movement that may lead to action that may finally let racists and hate mongers know that we have had enough! Or, you may do nothing. All of that is between you and God.
As for me, I will continue to do my part, however small, to be a voice in the void. For myself, my son, my brother, my cousins, my best friend, all the black men I love. I will not be quiet as long as they continue to sacrifice black men. The way things are going, though, I guess I will be speaking out for a while.