Ignoring the problem of racial violence won’t make it go away.
I don’t know when it hit me, the severity of what’s happening out there. Because it’s never happened to me. It’s sad that black men are getting shot, unarmed in the middle of the street. But it’s never happened to me. It’s tragic that police officers can get away with choking an innocent man to death. But it’s never happened to me.
I’ve never been stopped by the cops, accused of being a different black body. I’ve never had a gun pointed at my head for ‘talking back.’ So, why should I care about the Michael Browns and Eric Garners out there? It’s never happened to me.
I speak, act and think differently than those black bodies. It’ll never happen to me.
That’s the trap I found myself in.
The reality is, we face discrimination daily that we choose to ignore, hoping it’ll fade, that we can blend in, that our outside blackness can be made up for by our inside goodness. That if we show the world how well-trained we are, how well we’ve succeeded in marginalized institutions, how well we can speak the white man’s English, that they’ll forget we ain’t nothing more than another black body.
And we think we’re succeeding because, “it’s never happened to me.” We’re watering down who we are because we want to “pass.” Pass by as acceptable black bodies in white America. Forgetting those fallen black bodies—because as long as I avoid it, don’t raise questions about it, people won’t see me as one. And I’ll be fine.
We reach a point where we’re happy to hear, “I’m so glad you don’t act black.” As if to act black is to do something wrong. We devalue our black brothers and sisters. We devalue ourselves. We want to be so far removed from what makes us people, that we’re glad to watch the black sheep of the black bodies fall out. It’s so easy to say those dead black bodies deserved what they got. “Just look at how they’re dressed, how they act.” But since when is it okay for an innocent man of any color to be murdered like a deer in the middle of the woods?
Hunting season will never end until we passive black bodies and non-black bodies alike stop allowing black Americans to be devalued. Devalued on the street, devalued at work, devalued at home, devalued by ourselves. Hunting season will never be over until we realize the Civil Rights Movement has yet to end. This country built by black bodies is a war zone for black bodies. To sit quietly and hope to blend in is a shame, a huge discredit towards those black bodies that gave you the privilege to “pass by.”
So no, it’s never happened to you. But it is happening to you.
Walk outside and choose to see it.
Comfort Katchy is a storyteller based in New York City. Through her writings she intends to challenge the ideas and perceptions around cultural status. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.