Every year is filled with challenges and emotional roadblocks, but 2016 has been a powder keg.
From our own personal issues (for me, it’s been a death in my personal circle, struggles with my business and finances, publishing roadblocks and more) to the deaths of our musical heroes to mass shootings in major cities to police brutality flooding our timelines, human lives are being transformed into hashtags and headlines and all of it makes it seem like we are slowly drowning here in America.
I usually share my poetry or updates about my publishing pursuits, but I can’t do that today. In fact, recently I shared a non-poem on Facebook about how I’m feeling these days in the wake of black men being killed live for our viewing horror online:
Before I could even process those killings, five police officers in Dallas were gunned down at a peaceful protest breaking our hearts all over again. Then came the talking heads, racist tweets, calls for the president’s head, the blame, the doubt about motives and theories and think pieces about how the one lone “suspect” was exterminated.
In America, we don’t trust each other anymore.
Actually that distrust was built into the very fabric of who we are. We can’t look at where we are now without looking back to examine the racial residue of our past. To do so is foolish, ignorant and obscene and detrimental to real healing. Especially troubling is when people of color like talk show host Wendy Williams, who have short memories make statements like this when discussing the brilliant speech actor Jesse Williams delivered at the BET Awards this year:
In the current social climate we’re living in to make a statement like this is mind-boggling. Williams tried to clean things up the next day on her show, but her explanation fell flat and now she has reportedly lost a major sponsorship.
It seems like we all are taking major L’s this year. None greater than the people who refuse to realize that there is a serious problem here in America that has been bubbling and brewing beneath the surface for years, but because we have a black president some of us falsely thought that we had transcended racial issues. Some have even said that race relations have gotten worse since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. While there is no absolute proof, in every newspaper and on each newscast there are stories upon stories about communities of color and their issues with the forces that police them.
As the black bodies keep piling up, so do the protests on the streets and online.
What I’m noticing is that we’re having the same arguments. As the Black Lives Matter movement grows, the debate between those who think it’s necessary to keep the spotlight on bad policing practices and those who feel it further divides a fractured America is frustrating to watch. There have been so many excellent explanations about the movement, but those who can’t or don’t want to understand it cling to their Fox News statistics and biases and this leaves us mentally exhausted and at a standstill in a lot of ways.
I think at some point we have to stop trying to explain why black lives matter and just continue on with our work of demanding justice for the countless victims who are being taken away from us.
We need to focus our energy on holding our public officials accountable, being active politically even when we think our votes won’t count, mentoring our youth and holding them close so we can keep them safe and continuing to communicate and work with our willing allies. If we spend too much time on people who don’t want to understand the crisis, we will become too winded to do the work we need to do.
2016 may be a beast, but together we can tame her and face the years ahead with the strength, knowledge and experience we gained. We have to do this not only for ourselves, but for our children. They are listening and watching and they are scared and confused. We can and should fight against inequality and police brutality but…
No matter what, we CAN NOT lose our humanity.
© 2016, TamekaMullins. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.