Photo by Shamim Nakhaei on Unsplash
America is a cesspool of trauma for black people. Beginning with slavery, through Jim Crow segregation and now a despotic dictator who literally uses white evangelicalism as a sword to demonize black and brown people – this country crushes the soul of black people.
Anyone with a conscious must concede that America is anti-black and historically a dangerous place for black people. Black citizens like Emitt Till, Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King Jr., Alton Sterling, and George Floyd were all assassinated by whiteness.
We recognize the weapons used to kill them as dangerous, but there is a subtler way that white America is killing black people. And this killer is unaware of its lethal effects on black bodies.
Well-meaning white people awakening to the heinous realities of our white supremacist state pose a clear and present danger to the black people they are attempting to show empathy.
Would-be allies, eager to learn what they can do to bring change to this country and attempt to show their support, are not allowing black people to grieve.
Many of us want to help. Many of us have been putting effort into educating the public about anti-blackness and white supremacy, and we will continue to do so. But right now…
We are tired! We are worn down! We are bogged down with grief!
We are living in a country that doesn’t love us, and every day of our lives is emotionally taxing. We carry ancestral trauma in our bodies and the daily emotional tax of continually looking over our shoulder for anti-black aggressions.
Add to that trauma, the grief of watching black citizens murdered and lynched publically on social media and in the news with regularity. We are vexed!
We have high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression as a result, and now well-intentioned white people are asking for us to help them understand racism and process their grief.
You are killing us.
When people experience death in the family, most sane people give them space to grieve. People offer meal trains, money for food, thoughts, and prayers. They don’t typically ask them to explain the circumstances that lead to the death of their loved ones.
I know that white people want to show solidarity and offer help, but at this moment, the best way to do so is to show the same support people show those grieving a death in the family.
Allow black people to grieve. Round up the white nonsense in our social media feeds. Connect with the work that many black people have published to help educate white folks on these issues on your own. Check on Black friends without asking for anything in return.
Now is not the moment for Black friends to help safeguard white people from appearing racist. It’s not appropriate for Black people to carry the burden of more free labor in the service of America.
The men and women who have curated content under the weight of dehumanizing conditions are doing so at considerable personal risk to their mental and physical health.
Black leaders should be paid for engaging in anti-racism education in the current National climate. Any organization or individual looking to solicit the time of a black thought leader or friend should do so with a willingness to compensate them. Those Black leaders and friends deserve hazard pay.