How Can Anyone Hate You Because You're Black?

June 09, 2020


How can anyone hate you just because you’re black? This is a question I’ve been asked a number of times over the past few weeks. In other times over the years when asked this, I’ve answered with low energy: I don’t know, they just CAN. The disengaged attention I gave to this matter in those moments was the result of a bit of hopelessness. I mean, for a solid 35 of my almost 46 years of life, I’ve had to endure conversations and debates about how I was just the same as the non-Black person who was trying to figure out "with me" (I wasn't trying to figure it out but begrudgingly participating in many of these conversations) why my race was problematic in their circles ... their familial circles, their religious circles, their educational circles, their civic circles, their professional circles, their intellectual circles and any circle they enjoyed that could exist peaceably in any public space. I said I didn't know. But, I do. I just always weighed the emotional and mental cost of a conversation that I was sure would not result in enough change too great and unworthy of my real intellectual and emotional capacity. Especially because if you're asking anyone Black in your life this question in passing, without your full attention and your full heart, you're not ready to hear the why or do the changing. Well, the past four days have been different.

Just like I never honestly imagined seeing a Black president of the United States, I never believed there would be a time that Black people would be able to have a meaningful and stripped down conversation about racism in this country. 

I have talked to strangers, I have talked to friends ... I have even talked extensively with my boss. I'm so sorry George Floyd, Ahmaud Arberry, Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, Amadou Diallo, Philando Castile, James Chaney and so, so many other Black lives had to be taken for us to arrive, again, at a fireball moment in history. I have cried. I have lost sleep and, at times, been void of words. But today, I told a colleague that I can never go back to pretending that the micro-incivility, exclusion and outright racism I have faced in what is supposed to be safe spaces — among colleagues and associates, and in public spaces — are not significant and something I can ever learn to be okay with. I can never go back to pretending I want to extend the mental stamina or interest in pressing forward with mundane tasks and activities when a tragedy of social injustice or death has happened in the Black community. I can never go back to that.

How can anyone hate me because I'm black? They can because prejudice and the belief that one's own race is superior to the Black race has been passed down since 1619. When Black people were kidnapped ... stolen from the continent of Africa, it was never intended for them (FOR US) to be anything other than slaves in America. Freedom was never intended. And so because the spirit of Black men could not be broken and our ancestors would not indefinitely submit to a life in bondage, their freedom was forced and with it came a powerful generational resentment that undergirds every institution in America. President Abraham Lincoln once wrote: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it.” The disregard for and contempt for Black-ness was threaded into the fabric of Americanism. It is in the nuances of everything that the majority culture values and so it is a currency of oppression. I can never go back to not calling these nuances out. 

So the next time someone asks me, "how can anyone hate you because you're black," I have the energy now. And I hope they're ready to commit to going from not just being non-racist but to being anti-racist ... Because more than being open to learning from me what it is like to be me and to be a part of the African diaspora (racism against Black people is a problem across the world not just America), I'm looking for advocates to fight as hard as I am. More to come ... 

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2 comments

  1. Now is the time, because now is the time. You were not ready, not comfortable in your own skin, not settled with how it fits with your spirit man and your walk with GOD. The conversation we need to have requires facts and proof far beyond but inclusive of feelings born out of our life experiences. The world (people that do not look like us) are open to hearing us after seeing us hanged in street by the flag they believe in. They where the flag as they commit crimes and therefore protesting it is appropriate.

    Now, we can have the conversation, we have the knowledge and maturity to speak factually about this great America that we have built.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always been ready, since my first conversation in the 4th grade ... without all the facts and history; I was ready with my own black experience. The world want ready.

    ReplyDelete

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