I am tired.
Black America is tired.
We are at our boiling point in this country. The police violence that transpired within the last week set off a deep fire within all of us with the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota. To see two Black men killed during encounters with the police in such savage regards was sickening to watch and comprehend.
These events, plus the shooting at the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas that resulted in the death of 5 police officers, has taken a toll on our community mentally and emotionally. We are filled with so much pain, grief, anger, disgust, and fear that we do not know what to do. We cannot open carry when we have the right to, we cannot inform officers that we have a weapon and reach for our license and registration, and our children’s innocence are stolen from them when they watch someone shoot their loved one in the car. How is this the same country we proclaim to be the greatest in the world, and we have a group of people who are hunted like sport and our fears are discarded like carcass on the side of the road without a second glance?
I know I am emotionally and mentally taxed and maxed out. I cannot grasp the way police use excessive force in situations where all efforts to deescalate were not used to the fullest extent. I cannot fathom the anguish these families endure, especially the children who lost their fathers. Most importantly, I do not understand how you can look at someone who has a different skin color and view them as less than human, and regard their civil rights as being nothing more than laughable.
How do we, time and time again, fail to hold police officers accountable when they use tactics that are aggressive and inappropriate that result in the blood being spilled of another life? How do we excuse the culture of law enforcement that care more about protecting the brotherhood of officers and not the oath to protect and serve the communities they are placed in? Why are we so quick to question the validity of the story of a woman who watched her fiancé get shot four times for a routine stop, and have her 4-year-old daughter comfort her in the midst of the unthinkable ordeal?
How do you expect me to feel as a Black disabled woman living in this country? I know that I already have a target on my front and my back due to my two main identities - Blackness and disability. If I am approached by a police officer, do I worry about whether this is a trigger-happy cop who hate Niggers or cripples?
What if I make a sharp move in my wheelchair in addressing them ― will they deem that as an aggressive act, and a reason to empty half a clip in my 3 feet, 9 inch tall frame? Being someone who wears hearing aids (diagnosed as mild/moderate hard of hearing since the age of 13) and sometimes venture out without them, would an officer consider me to be non-compliant and disrespectful if I asked them to repeat a command because I did not hear them the first time? If there was no one around to videotape the exchange, what lies would be told about my refusal to follow command, and warrant killing me?
Which images, tweets, and Facebook statuses would be used to tell the world about who I am: the ones of me smiling, graduating from college and graduate school, meeting the President, and my public speaking engagements; or my rhetoric against white tears and racism to paint me as the stereotypical angry Black woman who could “terrorize” a white officer? I honestly never thought about these things until the past week, when we all wondering how we may be portrayed if we were to have a fatal encounter with the police.
My soul and heart are so burdened with fears for not only myself, but those I love, and if I become a parent, my future children. There is nowhere for us as Black Americans, disabled and non-disabled, to hide or feel safe ― we never had the luxury to be safe in this nation. We have always been the target practice for those of the majority in this country; even in 2016, we see that no matter how much education, money, or respect we exude… it will never be enough.
We are always in danger, whether we follow the rules or break them. Having freedom means that one has the right and ability to be who they are without barriers, and we have yet to gain this right that has eluded us for over 400 years.
I am tired. Black America is tired. White America, when will you become tired of us not feeling free and being scared to exist in our own country? When will you get tired of Black Lives not mattering? When will you hold your white peers in blue criminally accountable who victimize, brutalize and murder us? When will you give a damn about Black Lives, and why we matter?
Tell me… When?
* * *
As someone who has been very mindful of my self-care these past few days, I wanted to share a few readings that allows us as Black people to know that our feelings, emotions, and fears are valid, and to take care of yourselves while processing and figuring out how to make this world a better place for us to exist and finally free.
“We Gon’ Be Alright:” A Collaborative Mixtape For Black Healing
(Mixtape is available on Spotify.)
Staying Emotionally Well When Your Black Life Doesn’t Matter
(Aisha provides a self-care planning workbook (free to download) that is a resource to use for those who may need it. I’m thumbing through it, & it has helped me.)
For those of you who are looking for ways to enact change:
How to Write Effective Letters to Congress
(Holding our politicians accountable is imperative.)
This post originally appeared on Ramp Your Voice!
Ramp Your Voice! is Vilissa’s blog and disability advocacy space where she writes about issues that matters to her as a Black disabled woman, social worker, advocate, and proudly making the “good trouble” in society.