for several weeks now i’ve been burdened, i wake up shrouded in a wet wool blanket. i shower and the blanket is heavier. i drive to work and my car is covered in the same itchy fabric. when i read the headlines of children ripped from their parents because this government deems them illegals, when i scroll past story after story of violence (5 young men in the Bronx drag a 15-year-old male out of a bodega fatally stabbing him in the neck), then i arrive at work and i see blatant discrimination that is winked at, i feel despair. that’s just real talk.
when i look at my friends, fellow SBFs, pressing through corporate bs, trying to make ends meet, raise kids, keep their cars running, and maintain a home all on one income, i feel compassion. when i receive messages about an employee fired because he defended himself after another employee “charged him,” or a story about an employee accused of stealing a package only for leadership to find the missing item on the shipping dock, i feel anger. when i go to happy hour with colleagues and hear how one of them was told by her manager that she “is negative”, i am disheartened.
these are real emotions. what we face as black women on a daily basis is exhausting. we are weighed down by the unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves, by the injustices heaped upon us by managers, the unfair comparisons made between us and our peers…it’s a wonder how black women aren’t the ones showing up at work and losing their shit.
if i had to guess why, i’d say it’s because we come from a long line of women who have battled worse than i can imagine. we look at footage of mothers forcibly separated from their children without any assurance they will see them again and my mind immediately recalls images of slavery. black women raped by white captors, effectively transformed into breeders, populating plantations with light-skinned babies who have no idea of the life into which they were born. children who grow up fatherless and perhaps motherless when the day comes that they are snatched from their mother’s breast and sold to another plantation down the road, across town, or in another state altogether. i remember my dad explaining slavery to me as a child. he asked me, can you imagine someone taking you away from me? selling you? i was young and sat wide-eyed trying to imagine such an atrocity and here we are, 2018 and it’s happening again. is money changing hands? of course. someone is profiting from this “zero tolerance policy” sham as the children are whisked away and the parents are detained and grilled by immigration “officials.” this reality in which we live breeds helplessness and hostility. our own government mandated enforcement of this policy (which it later claimed to correct) and we, the citizens of this nation, allowed it to happen by not using the power of the vote.
many years ago an educator friend of mine said she explained to her black and latino students that the difference between them and other kids is ACCESS. ACCESS to wealth, healthcare, opportunities afforded their white peers. we’ve all seen the footage of a white male who violated a police order but was not hog-tied and nearly choked to death. we’ve seen the footage of dylann roof who murdered 9 people and wounded three, yet was peaceably taken into custody, but sandra bland, pulled over for not using a signal, was arrested after refusing to put out her cigarette, and later died in custody (ruled a suicide but any thinking person can see the truth, she was murdered). nearly a year after her death, the family was awarded $1.9M in damages. what i feel when i read these stories is sadness.
i’ve met enough people and heard enough personal testimonies to know that the lack of adequate legal representation can mean the difference between community service and 5 to 10 years in prison for a class c felony. i am a fan of earhustle, the podcast out of san quentin state prison, and as i listen to the inmates talk about “life inside” i think of my friend and his family. this is not a faceless name of some brotha who “committed a crime.” this is someone I KNOW, a family man, a father, a son, a husband, a friend and now he is processed into an unforgiving system that is designed to separate them from us. ripping a father away from his family for self-defense (no fatality) is criminal in and of itself. this is a black man who did not have the money for a lawyer like ethan couch, the white teen who popularized the nonsensical term “affluenza” who was given probation after killing 4 people and injuring several others while driving drunk at 16. the only thing that landed ethan in prison was violation of his parole. or how about the other white male college student, brock turner who raped an unconscious woman, “hired a high powered attorney” (quoted from the victim’s letter to the rapist and read at trial) and the judge sentenced him to 6 months in jail with probation. yet my friend is stuck with a public defender who convinces him to cop a plea…where is the justice? it’s buried in the constitution. hidden in law libraries. justice is in the hands of those who dispense it. the public defender with a case load a mile long, the judge who needs to move through her docket, the family who cannot afford a silver-tongued-brooks-brothers-suit-wearing lawyer who will shake a hand, wink, smile, file some motion and allow you walk free with house arrest instead of physical arrest.
sisters, i know i am not the only one feeling like a nail beaten into concrete, bent and broken by each blow, exhausted by the daily, hourly, onslaught of murder, mayhem, and injustice. i cannot be the only one who feels a burden to pray, to give, to demonstrate, to scream from the highest mountain “i demand justice!” surely i am not alone in weeping, in pleading with the Most High God to give His people relief. i am persuaded that the omniscient God of the Universe, the Holy Trinity, the Creator sees and knows what we face. He has called His own to unify and recognize that the battle is not fought on earth with weapons and words, rather this is a spiritual battle that is fought in the heavenly realm with prayer and fasting. when He answers, we have our marching orders. may we have ears to hear His instruction and the courage to carry it out.