Originally published by Slant on July 23rd.
It's been another one of those weeks: one that starts with the news of a Black sibling dying in "suspicious" circumstances, where every day my heart hurts more and more as I discover something new and something more haunting about the case. This video does a great job of introducing these moments and the need for the possibility of "Calling in Black" when they happen, due to the pain they incur and debilitating effect they have on our well being as people of color.
You know what? I guess you could say it's been one of those years, or that as a Black person I'm forced to live one of those lives. But my most recent pain follows that of the Black church burnings and comes with the story of Sandra Bland, her death, the release of the dash cam video, the suspicion of it being edited, and of course, the burden of having to explain to everyone why what happened to her (and what has happened to others) is so very wrong, unfair, and unjust.
I cannot fully express the frustration that results from being reminded daily that your life is worth less in your country simply because of your skin tone. But this is only the beginning of the frustration. What frustrates me even more, to the point of near insanity, are the distractions people use to keep what's most important out of the limelight.
One of the oppressor's favorite strategies is distraction - and it's something I want everyone to be aware of - another writer points to this eloquently in her piece "Things to Stop Getting Distracted by When a Black Person is Murdered by the Police." For example, distraction comes in the form of statements and questions that seem like they have to do with the case at hand, but that actually only confuse people and set them off the right path. They also force those in pain to waste time explaining why stupid points are not valid.
These include statements and questions like: "Sandra Bland had issues with depression in the past," "Sandra Bland might have had issues with authorities in the past," "Why didn't she just put out the cigarette when she was told to?" "Why are Black women always so angry and aggressive?" "Sandra Bland smoked weed."
These questions and statements do nothing but allow the oppressor to distract. And if you're wondering who I'm referring to when I say "oppressor" - if you haven't heard the name Sandra Bland, you're the oppressor. If you don't think the officer did something wrong, you're the oppressor. And if you have said any of these previous quotes, you're the oppressor.
I am honestly sick and tired of people wasting my time saying these things and people who ask me to consider them, because they don't make a difference. I repeat, they. do not. make a difference. And I refuse to allow them to distract me from the real questions that need answers.
Here are these examples: Why was a woman asked by a male police officer to get out of the car at all, especially after she verbalized her knowledge of her rights? How dare that man put her on the ground, hand cuff, and injure her? Why was she ever put in jail and why the hell was she in jail for THREE DAYS?? Because of a failure to signal???
I can give you the answer to these questions. It's a pretty simple one: racism, sexism, abuse of power, and injustice. So here are the most important questions that everyone should be asking.
Why does the oppressor try so hard to make us think that every new case of racism is a new kind of case where we, people of color, have to prove all over again that racism is a thing by examining every nook and cranny? And why can't everyone see that what happened to Sandra Bland is a hate crime and is absolutely wrong?
WE - those on the side of being able to identify discrimination, those on the side of seeking justice, those on the side of being exhausted by the heartbreak we know too well, and those who are doing everything in our power to stay focused on truth - are tired of YOU - those who do everything in you power to not see the truth, those who continue to abuse or ignore us, and those who come with all your many distractions.
When these cases come up, please think to yourself what side you are contributing to because they are two completely different ones. So if your life is filled with people (like mine is) who try to distract you on the daily with their idiocy, or if you run into someone who throws a distraction your way, I hope this article might come in handy.