I’m Done Apologizing for My Anger – A Rant on Black Liberation
We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society. – Angela Davis
Don’t be afraid to feel as angry or as loving as you can, because when you feel nothing, it’s just death. – Lena Horne
As a woman I’ve been taught both subconsciously and deliberately to “manage” my emotions. I’ve learned that a woman should mask her hurt for fear of being seen as irrational or hysterical. As a black individual, it’s also been beat into my head that I should let go of the past as much as possible for fear that it’ll make me resentful and incapable of growth. Now, as a mother of a black son in a time where we have to rally to shout to the world that our “lives matter,” I realize that silence and passivity haven’t gotten us as far as we’d hope. Reading constantly and seeing everyday the visible generational damage of black families makes it clear that a different kind of change is needed.
I know I’ve been spoiled, growing up in Atlanta, being exposed to black people of all backgrounds (professionals and hustlers-both understanding the gift of double-consciousness). But technology has made it increasingly clear that the masses are willfully uneducated, proudly ignorant and, as evidenced by this last presidential election, terrifyingly powerful. Throughout high school and college, I fought this anger. I thought the more I read, the more I would understand and too want to forget. I thought that if I exposed myself to other worlds through literature, art and travel that I would somehow acquire this belief that we, “American” people, could truly begin to co-exist in a post-racial society. I really started to believe that maybe in someway it could be true.
I had to stop myself though and consider, why? Why do we have to forget? The slave-trade that displaced millions of Africans, is one of the most brutal accounts of slavery and categorized as genocide. Not only is it more than just a tidbit of American history, it marks the beginning of what we have come to know as African-American history. For us blacks who can only trace lineage to the States, this diaspora is what has created and shaped what we recognize as our culture. That alone should be enough for us to never want to erase our minds of the resilient history of our past, but adding in the fact that this defilement of an entire people has so many lasting effects today makes it even more important to remember.
It is blatantly ignorant and disrespectful to ignore the fact that so much of what is hard to fix in the black community has its roots in slavery, the reconstruction period just after slavery and the Jim Crow era. How are we supposed to move forward without confronting our past? Any therapist working with a patient who has experienced severe trauma has to work backwards to undo the damage in order to rebuild. Since when have we been allowed proper reparation or rehabilitation?
I’ve tried to use my religion, my gender, my age, my class and whatever else to deflate my anger toward the conditions of the black race as a whole. I’ve told myself that “hate is to heavy a burden.” I’ve convinced myself that Christians forgive. I made myself believe that my youth made me haughty. While there is truth in all of that, it still leaves our conditions unchanged. Ignoring the problem doesn’t fix it.
My question is this, why are we so afraid of our frustration? Why are we afraid to be mad? Before any change can be made, there has to be a willingness to admit it is needed. I’m tired of getting riled up for a moment, marching for a day or two only to watch thousands of black people go back to jobs that pay them bullshit wages. I’m tired of watching my communities be disparaged by factors outside of our control. I’m tired of not being in control of the visual representation of our people. I’m tired of the low-exposure to culture and arts in poor communities. We’ve been fighting the good fight for decades, when are we going to actually start changing what matters…our minds.
Frustrated and ready for change.
Originally Published: February 6, 2017
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