Yes, this year was horrible. It was especially difficult for people whom are a part of marginalized communities. For us within the Black community it’s been truly harrowing. We were constantly reminded things are worse for us because of racism. Still, regardless of all these things Black people are still here and we continue to prosper.
Content warning; mentions of the pandemic, and general racism.
So we have a global pandemic, a threat that’s literally dangerous to everyone. Logically, one would assume this should be a clear call to action for us all. However, what we saw from our elected officials were great deals of failure. Millions of people lost their jobs, yet big businesses were bailed out. People faced homelessness, yet rent/mortgages freezes were not enacted. Despite all of this, we had to work/earn income and maintain this capitalist above all else society. Not to mention that we’ve lost over 300,000 lives to covid 19 and its treatment. Do you know whom the aforementioned has disproportionally affected? Indigenous, Black and Brown people.
Why? Because society operates where our livelihoods come second fiddle to the overwhelming white majority. Again, systemic oppression. Still, we have to advocate for ourselves and speak truth to those that don’t see our pains. Let alone see us as humans.
Despite all the pains of 2020, the Sumer was marked by the realizations we lost Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. Their untimely deaths was another painful reminder of our reality. What made these deaths even more soul crushing? That in the middle of a pandemic that doesn’t discriminate and, our Black lives are still highly in danger.
Keep in mind, that while this was happening more Black lives were being taken by this incredibly oppressive system. You may not know because you aren’t Black but do know how many lives are lost by the hands of violence directly or indirectly by police/society? They are numerous, they are local, they at times happen every other day. It’s been this way forever. Again, all of this by design. This was reinforced by the death of these human beings that did no wrong. The only wrong they committed was being born Black.
Then came the protests that went on well passed the Summer. Do you know why the protests began in America but was then seen throughout the globe? Because injustices to Black people literally happens everywhere. It never was and never has been “an only American problem”. It’s existed for centuries and persists. Protests were peaceful and sometimes not. Then came the riots. Regardless of what you think or feel, riots needed to happen. This society will never truly hear or see the Black community unless we riot. Violence and destruction is the language of America. After all, it was inflicted so much on our Black livelihoods for centuries without end. It’s only fitting.
Then came the most performative allyship I’ve ever seen in my life. All of a sudden people gave a damn about the inequalities we experience as Black people. We promoted anti racist books, that clearly will go/have gone unread. It was Black Lives Matter from everyone for a little over a month and it was right back to the same old same old. Hell, I learned of the ridiculous notion of allyship fatigue.
Do you know how insulting it was/is that people just “suddenly” realize they need Black people in their spaces? The statements of we’ll work on having Black people here was a bit disingenuous. All marginalized issues are well documented and known. There is no changing the fact it all came as a response to Black suffering.
Now let’s talk about allyship. For one, I don’t believe in the word’s intention as it’s reinforced by most people. I often use the word to deconstruct how it can fail. Now we have supposed allies doing the work for the greater good. If you are white (& or non-Black) and never verbally speak on anti-Blackness? You aren’t doing enough. You never address how blatantly obvious, racism takes place in your respective career field/industry? Again, not doing enough. If solely rely on Black people to speak on racism? You aren’t doing enough. If you chose to do noting substantial your platform? Your perceived notion of the word ally is laughable.
Now, let’s talk about Anti Blackness and how it exists. Many incorrectly assume racism and is solely violent and physical. This is utterly false and it is more prevalent than you think. If your “diverse and inclusive” work space has none/one Black individual? You are participating in the exclusion of Black individuals. If your friend group literally has 1 Black person? Congratulations, you clearly aren’t very welcoming. If the people you consider beautiful are literally all white, have a proximity to white, are another race, and none are Black? That’s active exclusion.
If the media/art you consume often doesn’t include work that includes any Black stories? That’s what? Yeah, that’s anti-Blackness. If your hiring practices and methods continually result in little to no Black people? A round of applause to you, you have active systemic issues! And no amount of “we want more Black people to apply” will fix what regularly keep us out. It’s either you fix or let your numbers talk. If anything I said was wrong, I guess the rate which you encounter/engage with Black people. How often do you choose to show support to individuals more marginalized than yourself?
But really what is Anti-Blackness at its core? 2020 has been a blueprint for everyone that isn’t Black. It’s harm/lack of equality that is inflicted on human beings for no reason other than the fact of their race. Anti-Blackness is transphobic, homophobic, ablest, misogynistic, promotes rugged individualism, is anti-community, and etc. It’s practically infinite but the basics remain easy enough to understand. Anything that results or involves the exclusion for the Black quality of life, advancement, access, equity, and well-being.
So, I asked many questions in regards to the harm that befalls us. Have I been wrong in how I’ve navigated life as a Black man? What about the rage I feel? What about the matter of my life expectancy? Have I been merely a victim? Have I even contributed to it throughout my life? The answer is yes
As an abled bodied, cishet Black man I can obtain the most social capital among the Black community. This is a fact and is hardly arguable. We live in a society is a patriarchy and it continually caters to me. This is why those whom project intra-community harm most often are my demographic. How can we truly dismantle everything, if many choose to take a part in destructive practices and beliefs?
I have been reminded of the following repeatedly. Every opportunity and chance I have to up speak for/uplift those more marginalized than myself? I should. Should I not? That’s missed opportunity to use the privileges and platform that society gives me. Yes, things are bad for me as a Black man. But it remains far worse for Black women, femmes, gender non conforming people, and others depending upon their intersections in life. This is the job I have as I move about the world.
No, this article isn’t completely dedicated to how bad this year has been. There was a point I was so emotionally, spiritually, and mentally drained I asked my therapist: how do we find the strength to move on? My thankfully Black therapist shared something powerful with me. We (Black folks) have persisted in the past, present, and will continue to do so. It’s true we have been here living our lives and making the best of it. We’ve done so for centuries and there’s no denying that. I needed to hear those words from an older Black person.
It’s true, in the middle of all of this utterly soul crushing year, we are still living, working, and trying to find joy. People I know continue to stay true to this causes. People continue to work on the failures of representation across industries. People are creating spaces where people can be unapologetically themselves. Collectively we are done with racism and continue to speak.
Aside from work and success I was reminded about life. People reminded me that we don’t need more than a good quality of life. People continue to look into the whiteness and say they refuse. People continue to share art that shows Black is beautiful. People continue to write stories that showcase were humans. People carve out digital spaces for us to see and hear Black voices when they can’t see them daily. People continue to remind us that the best actions against our oppression is to have joy. People remain dedicated to remind us that Black is a spectrum of other and anything that fails to reflect isn’t genuine.
Everyday I saw our multitudes of Black joy, Black excellence, and unapologetic Blackness I was energized. I need to see my people living to be able to live myself. It may sound weird and selfish on some level, but if you’re not Black I can’t explain it to you. And honestly? I don’t care if you don’t get it.
This year reminded my primary audience for my work are Black folks. This is my thank you to my city, my culture, and my community that helped me become a person. In the pursuit of living, I wish all human beings peace and equality. But alas things aren’t like that. In the pursuit of making things better I can stay true to myself. I’ll do that while being unapologetically Black.
I’m not sure how to end this exactly. I guess I should say the obvious. No matter the pain and harm we face in life, we deserve peace and happiness. I appreciate how you express your own Blackness. My fellow Black people, I love you and I’ll try my hardest to express that for as long as I’m here.
Because others reminded me throughout the year: I love being Black and no one will ever make me feel otherwise. Not this year, not this society, nothing.