Killing black people is not normal.
Sometimes, unconsciously, I watch videos of police brutality, and my heart rate will begin to increase. I know what is going to happen next in the video. I pray that this video is different. My worst fears are realised. I made a conscious decision about 2 months ago to stop engaging with content like this because I never want it to become normal to me. This is not normal. Violence inflicted upon black bodies should never be a part of our normal.
The video of George Floyd has left me feeling conflicted. This ignorance that I have chosen is very much a privilege. At the same time, I cannot help but see myself in all these black men that are being brutally murdered by the system(s) that are claiming to protect them. I question whether my refusal to engage with this trauma is counterproductive. Surely it is helpful to share the message and show others the things that are happening in the world? By not doing this, am I refusing to do an essential part of ‘the work’?
Selfishly, I put myself in the position of all the victims. How would I feel if everyone chose their ‘peace’ instead of recognising/engaging with my murder? The real answer is: I don’t know.
Sometimes I wonder why the world views my life and the lives of other black men as disposable. Why is it that police officers feel emboldened enough to brutally kill black people in front of witnesses or on camera? Why is it that even with video evidence, eye witness testimonies, physical evidence and motive, these murderers are not given the sentences that they deserve. I remind myself of the foundations on which a lot of our norms were built.
For hundreds of years, it was a scientific fact that black people were not human and were not regarded as such. To this day, people still argue this is true. You could kill, rape, brutally abuse and own black people legally, while ‘the church’ and science helped to align the beliefs with the actions of the oppressors to remove their cognitive dissonance.
It’s easy to feel dispirited. It’s easy to feel like whatever efforts we make; it’ll all be in vain. We’re operating within a system that was never actually built to support or protect us. It’s tiring. The protestors you’re seeing aren’t thugs – they’re frustrated and desperate people fighting for their lives and pleading with the world to see that our lives, black lives, matter.
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” – Angela Davis.
You will never see me asking non-black individuals or organisations to be allies. I think allyship is only effective when it’s entirely voluntary (obviously). I shouldn’t have to convince you that my humanity is important. Calling out people for not supporting a cause will lead to disingenuous posts about “we’re hurting, and we need to support each other” or rubbish Canva graphics from your favourite fast fashion brands. No one needs or wants that. If they’re not willing to voluntarily take an anti-racist stance and/or put in the work day-to-day, I think that is a clear enough message.
So what happens now? We donate to things like the Minnesota Freedom Fund. We sign petitions like the #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. We educate ourselves as much as we can. We do whatever we can with the capacity that we have. Most importantly, we should never forget, and we should never stop doing the work.
You can tell that I don’t plan these because this was supposed to be about the internal conflict I face with respects to engaging with traumatic content, and I’ve gone off on a tangent. As I’m writing this - 3 days after writing the rest of the article you’ve just read - I’ve had some time to really think about this. Alvin wrote, and I quote: “it reminds me that in the eyes of the state, I am not enough”. This sums up how I feel, and I’m just exhausted.