As A Black Woman In America What Happened In Ferguson Is PERSONAL

ferguson protests

Things are a lot more black and white than we want to admit.

I don't want to talk about what it’s like to be Black in America right now, but I need to talk about what it’s like to be ME in America right now.

I am not surprised that Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted for the murder of Mike Brown. Yes, I said murder, because that’s what it’s called when you shoot an unarmed teen and unload 6 bullets into him. Inhumane is what you call leaving his lifeless, bullet-ridden body uncovered on the street for 4-and-a-half hours while his mother wailed in agony. He was a child bound for college who had a future—despite his faults—who was then callously dumped in the back of a police SUV while crowds looked on and grew understandably angry.

I am angry.

Just a few weeks ago a high school student may have been lynched in North Carolina and it was swept under a rug. The injustice continues.

"I think that we've got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard." - Martin Luther King, 1966

It’s an all-out war zone in Ferguson right now. Although the anger and destructive behavior of some Black protesters embarrasses me, I realize that they are hurting. Instead of writing their frustration (as I do now), they’ve taken to the streets. The problem in Ferguson will not be solved with looting or property damage or violence, but some are too misguided to know any other way to fight the injustice. The out-of-control protesting is simply a sign of the escalating oppression in this country and that is genuinely depressing.

Yes, I am a Black woman in America. And for me, this is very personal.

I can't imagine what it would be like if I would have carried my son full-term; if he were been born alive. My adorable, dark-skinned son with West African-like features like his father's. To have nurtured him until he was a teen only to have his life snatched by someone who will never have to pay for his murder thanks to a justice system that claims to protect everyone. Murdered by a man who will only be sentenced by the court of Karma and God himself on judgment day.

I have peace knowing exactly where my black son is ... and I don’t have any white man to blame for that. If I have a problem with where he is, I get to take it up with God Almighty himself, not some flawed justice system. For that I am thankful.

But the idea that my sweet, precious nephews with their sometimes apathetic attitudes (but good grades and funny personalities) could have laid on that ground for four hours, too. To know that people might someday detach my nephews from their family of masters and Ph.D. degree-holding lineage to only describe them as a "black males." That hurts my soul, and it reminds me how unsafe it is for me to raise children in such a world.

But it's not just Black males who should be afraid.

Just a couple of months ago, an angry man fleeing a brawl spit on me and called me a nigger.

Women still grab their $12 purses when I walk by them in Walmart, despite the fact that I carry one that’s $1200.

Professionally, I must work every day to make sure I am not perceived as an "angry black woman," but instead behave like one who stays in her place, no matter how successful I am.

And when things like this happen, like the Zimmerman verdict before, my Facebook friend numbers dwindle. Conservative Republican "friends" hit the unfriend button, not because I say anything disrespectful or profound, but because they're uncomfortable with a black person stating their position on a racial issue. They know that white privilege exists, but it's not OK for me to acknowledge it. And if I do, I'm a liberal black person to be likened to the Black Panthers.

But it's not just about me.

Whether we admit it or not—black or white—this is personal for each of us on some level. Tomorrow, white people will avoid the conversation with me, when just 6 years ago they excitedly went out of their way to tell me that they voted for Barack Obama.

They'll be thankful that they don’t have these kinds of issues because they aren’t black, while others will feel badly about the situation and apologize, as if I were Mike Brown's mother.

None of it is fair or correct. It's very backwards. But the sad thing is, until open season ends on black men, little will change.

No, it's not a great time to discuss what it's like to be Black in America. Being me in America right now is complicated. Being you in America is complicated, too. I guess things are a lot more black and white right now than either of us want to admit.


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