Here we are again: Baffled in the midst of an ongoing anti-Black war on African-American life and the seemingly nonexistent factor of “justice.” Here we are, learning of yet another Black body rendered bloody and helpless in the streets of 2016 America.
It is here that we find ourselves not even remotely healed from the last tragedy, just to be tossed head-on into the gaping gore of a new one… grappling with the illusive concept of value… catching our breath, questioning our country, evaluating our own lives, talking, listening, crying— trying to find the right words to say…
It’s a heavy weight to carry when your skin connects you to the gut of a continual epidemic whether you feel like looking it in the face all the time or not… People are saying they’re going to block all the disgusting dirtbags (other Blacks) who RT clips of violent shootings. And it got me thinking: With all that’s going on (and all that will soon go on), I’ve been thinking:
What if we turn on each other without even realizing it? Do we know how to prevent that? Do we know how to act? Do we know how to maneuver when our senses are high and we start to feel it all?
Look, I get it. I completely understand the overwhelming, life-sucking black hole that can arise from the frequent consumption of graphic police-shooting content. I’m trying to stay afloat myself…
But don’t let that accumulation of frustration and anger be channeled in the wrong direction. Look— all I’m saying is that we’re all trying to process things, and maybe some of us have gone too far with the reposting, mostly out of shock or similar sentiments. The truth is, no one knows exactly how to handle the content that’s surfacing. It shouldn’t be HAPPENING to us at all, so there’s no manual. And if we as a family need to come up with some rules, that’s OK too.
It’s okay to feel bewildered. If it’s driving you crazy, by all means, guard yourself. Seriously, guard yourself. But don’t let a built-up, dismissive allergic reaction to any brutality content cause you to hate your brother.
Let’s not demonize people who, likely in shock or disbelief, share some news they thought was very new and crazy or that accompanies a statement they’d like to make. If you need cut off autoplay, do it. But not everyone needs to cut off autoplay.
Know yourself. We all have different thresholds for graphic videos. For instance, as an artist/former art school student, the craziness on that nudist, blood-loving, put-it-on-camera, anything-goes campus really desensitized me to a lot of images, so it takes a lot before research/discussion me falls off and “Omg turn that off” me kicks in.
In reference to the idea of online frustration, it’s also fairly important that we remember the impact of moods. I didn’t say anyone was moody, but it’s worthwhile to consider that the alternation of given states of being can account for the spewing of many ill-placed angry words. What I mean is that there’s a plethora of factors that can contribute to a black person’s level of belligerence or peace at any given time. And we have to be aware of that.
Just because you’ve had a relatively peaceful day eating yogurt at the park and don’t feel like discussing something, doesn’t mean another Black person is a “Twitter Activist” who “never shuts up.” I know your White boss was nice to you today but who are you to say someone’s killing YOUR vibe? And just because a community event ticked you off and you don’t see EVERY Black person with a Twitter account joining that particular hashtag, doesn’t mean they’re this engaged with their community. There are multiple factors (including age, location, daily sightings, life obligations, bad memories, personal triggers and the like) that can affect the degree to which a Black person chooses to immerse themselves into a topic at a certain time. They could be doing more offline than you’d ever know. (That’s what I try to do Yes, we must always be cognizant of who we are and the never-ending fight for better— and hopefully we find ourselves more in the ring than on the sidelines — but you can’t jump to conclusions about a person’s level of commitment and micromanage someone’s life. People are in different modes at different times, and a lot of it is for our sanity.
For some, too much is too much and they don’t want to see bodies bleeding down their TL’s. And that’s okay. For others, it’s all just super unbelievable and by sharing they call themselves, “spreading the word” to further the conversation. Both moods are branches extending from the root of a beating, concerned human heart.
None of this is easy. It’s clear we’ve got a lot of work to do, and in 2016 social media is realistically apart of it. It’s getting real. If it’s getting to you and you need a bathroom break, I’ll watch your purse. If you want to repost a clip or photo as REAL support for what you’re trying to say, maybe you can add a trigger warning.
As we embark on a path we shouldn’t even have to walk, it’s likely that our moods/dispositions are going to range from inflamed, typing-a-mile-minute think-pieces (gotta laugh at yourself) and moments of feeling the desire to disjoin from it all.
Let’s try not to lean too far in either direction.
Disconnect from the constant swallowing of bitter pills like word-picking and extremely graphic content, but try to find a way not to disconnect from the cause. Take your breaks; go on walks; eat Popeyes (but grab some tea because that biscuit is a monster on its own); do some work; watch Martin. Breathe.
Stay well-rounded. Keep living your life. That’s how you stay strong enough to be in it for the long-haul.
So no, you don’t have to feel required to answer the ignorant cashier in the coffee shop tomorrow when he brings up the Minnesota shooting— but we do need to have the capacity to come together continually and keep believing in what can happen.
We don’t have to discuss this stuff 24/7, but we DO need to be on the same page 24/7 if any of our ideas are going to be ultimately manifest into action. So if you feel a thing, and you don’t like what your brother posted, say so respectfully, without spitting venom. If not, we’ll get so consumed by the back-and-forth that we’ll forget we have a common enemy to triumph over. And that’s how we lose.
We can’t afford to lose.
It’s a tough road, and we have to take time to refuel. It’s okay to feel simply “over” the sights and sounds of bloody streets for a time; I just don’t want us to get so overwhelmed by videos and everyone else’s posts that we say, “Screw it all.” I don’t want us to chill to the point that we freeze. We have to keep going.
This is a journey no other marginalized group has to take, so unless somebody is spewing some utter negativity and horse manure, let us take each other’s perceived “mistakes” and mold those moments into something informative.
Look — I don’t know the answer… But I know the insurmountable God who does. The sincere and rigorous unification of our mind-spaces is a first step so that high-impact strategies like financial restraint and control of the Black dollar can begin to foster effective leverage.
Let’s work together. It’s a tumultuous journey but needless to say, it’s one worth taking… And any long trip comes with rest stops, so take breaks when you need to. It’s about balance. The balancing act isn’t easy, but if we want our future children to experience something else, it’s worth it. I know it’s hard. We’ve got our work cut out for us. There are emotions everywhere. But we must keep things in perspective.
In light of all that’s going on, do you.
But don’t forget to do US.
We need each other right now.
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