So it’s 2014 and all that had gone on over the past few years I am asking myself the question.
Are we here because we put ourselves here?
There is nothing that can validate a death, but post the civil rights era did we learn anything? Did we forget what our jobs were to be and to uphold the MLK and X perspectives, or did we become complacent and think that we were safe?
We are not living in a generation where we choose to acknowledge or are informed of our history and we don’t search for it either. I think as a race African Americans have to hold some accountability for not keeping the status quo of our race on the up and up (myself included). I took a African American studies class years ago and that blew the door wide open on race for me. I have been changed since, but realizing the hand we all play in the defamation of the black race is much deeper that our appearance. All the posting of WorldStarHipHop videos, all the “black people be like” anecdotes and memes, all the back and forth over light skin vs. dark skin, using religion to separate and fuel intolerance against each other is skimming the surface of our problems as a race. I find as a race we barely tolerate each other at times. The way we speak of each other, the way we stereotype each other, the idea that is there is a difference between “black people” and “niggas”, the way we separate ourselves from other races instead of doing what integration was built around. This is skimming the surface again of what the problems may be.
If we are ever going to have resolution to these problems and the “Emmitt Tilling” of the black race and our children specifically. We have to acknowledge our hand in the images of black culture as it stands in the United States of America.
It is somehow conceptualized that we are equals in this country and that you and I are “free”, but as a close friend of mine says “Freedom ain’t free, everything cost you something.” I agree with the fact that she is right. This post is not about assessing my thoughts and opinions on the death of Mike Brown and the collective deaths of people of African descent by authoritative figures and police.
As you see I used a #IFIWASGUNNEDDOWN photo for the thumbnail of this post because I am against the idea of what it represents. People are using their photos from social media for admirable reasons but not really holding on to the truth of their photos. If we all were so concerned of how we were portrayed by mass media we would not use these photos in social media. If we were so concerned we take all our “negative images” off of social media but many of us haven’t nor plan to. There are several photos on my own social media sites/app that I know don’t show me in the best light, but that’s who I was at that moment and time in my life and I am not ashamed of it. I think it is further more to the argument that even though the media describes white suspects better than black victims we have control over our images and it is nothing they can do short altering them, which is highly unethical to do so. More On This Topic From The Huffington Post Click Here
Even with all that said, even beyond our photos we have to look at our physical presence in the world. All minorities are under the boot heel of some kind of stereotype or have been oppressed or have been in mass media under some kind of racial moniker or devalued because of their gender. I think as African-Americans either we are ignoring how society views us or we are simply not being told as children how the world views us. For instance, with women. Women have to be aware of their image, where they walk at night, and how they interact with men. I am by no means condoning rape shame or slut shame, but women have been on target about this for a long time. They know they have the freedom to dress anyway they choose, they know they can walk wherever they want, but they do know the variables they are dealing with. It can be anything from meeting a nice person, being asked their number, to being followed home, to being raped, to even worst to being gang raped, kidnapped, or murdered. Even though we are way behind on rape culture in our society women understand how perception takes a huge part in how they interact with the rest of the world. I wonder is it because we are men that we feel the need not to adapt. My mother never really had a solid conversation with about being a black man in society, but I eventually caught on to the idea on my own. I have been pulled over by cops without given a warrant or a ticket. I even had my car searched one time, even after another cop showed up on the scene who knew me and vouched me because he knew me personally they still went through my entire car only to find nothing.
More here for that story here:
At that point I was damn sure aware that race and our images were a problem and I think it lead to me subconsciously cutting my locs off which I had at the time of that incident. I’m not saying don’t walk around in your baggy jeans that are hanging halfway off your ass but be aware of the negative perception and attention it lends to. When we are dealing with cops we have to understand that the “rights” we have aren’t exclusive to us at the moment all those grievances during that moment we need to bring to the courtroom while we are still alive because clearly some law enforcement lack any qualms about killing us.
In closing, acknowledging where we stand in this country doesn’t mean we should be complacent and agree with but to acknowledge that is still work to be done and being reactive instead of proactive will bring us down quicker. Protesting properly is the way to start. Regardless of how the police are exacerbating this situation in Ferguson, we must be the bigger person. Nothing about what I am saying is making us as black people the culprit and that the deaths are all on our hands because black people do have considerable issues in this country gaining success because of the color of our skin and white privilege is a real issue in this country. I wish we could live in the country were we didn’t lose out on job opportunities because we have ethnic names, that I could wear my timbs and jeans anyway I wanted, that the darker that I am the more of a threat I am, and that we were all aware of how each other were being treated. Alas this is not the world we live in and since we are aware of that now, why aren’t all of us doing something to purport a better image of black culture?