Letters from a Black American Abroad

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time. — James Baldwin

I will do this post in three parts. It got a little lengthy. Here is part one.

Part one:

I woke up and checked my phone this morning—a habit I’m not fond of, and a habit I regretted especially today. Immediately I was angry. I forced myself to put my phone down, and tried to make myself get out of bed. It was Friday morning 7:20 KST (Thursday 18:20 EST). I had to report to work by 8:30. I realized that I did not want to go to my school today. Why? Because I did not want to teach innocent, happy children while I was feeling this way. I felt bad. And I wanted to make others feel as bad as I did.

Yesterday around midday KST or a bit past it, a friend sent me a link to a live feed about a shooting. I didn’t feel anything about it at the time. Violence, mass shootings—it’s something that I’ve become accustomed to hearing about. I briefly clicked the story then exited out of the page thinking that I didn’t feel like reading about another shooting. Later when I was at home I realized that I should be paying attention. This happened in my birth state, a place where I have family. I logged on and wrote a brief post to Facebook: What happened in Charleston? I got a response almost immediately to an article about the shooting.

Again, I wasn’t surprised. But I was more interested.

So this morning the story finally blew up on my newsfeed. I scrolled through and read various posts about the situation. I saw photos of the terrorist and learned he’d been arrested. I saw footage of him in a bullet proof vest being escorted and carefully placed in a police vehicle.

Then I got angry.

I read comments on outraged posts demanding others to explain how this fool was taken in unscathed, with care and respect, while unarmed black folks are shot on sight. The comments read:  No! Glad they took him in peacefully. He’s worth more alive. His life is more valuable to them alive.

I was livid.

This scum. This murderer. Terrorist. He prayed with then killed 9 black people. But his life has VALUE. His life is the one that has WORTH.

This. This is fucking why we protest, we scream, we shout, we fight and proclaim that BLACK LIVES MATTER. Even after committing this horrible act, this white man’s life is still valuable enough to be treated with respect. He’s still treated like a human—given the benefit of the doubt.

Our boys are being shot down for wearing hoodies, playing with toy guns, running from police, a REFLEX hammered into us after decades of abuse. While our girls are thrown, pummeled, tackled, beaten, and crushed. While our women are beaten and even raped BY POLICE and stay silent out of fear.

This tells us daily that our lives don’t mean shit. But this actual armed murderer’s life inherently has value. He’s valuable. He’s worthy. And even more so BECAUSE he has killed nine black people.

It’s absolutely disgusting.

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