Trying to find a way to process the emotions I feel has been hard. I’ve sat, fixated on the television, teary eyed every night for the last week. I’ve tossed and turned at night throughout the time, because sleep feels a bit inconsequential.
Our country is, again, in an all-out war against racism.
Do not get things twisted. It is a war. However unfortunate that reality may be, it’s the truth.
Friends have asked, “How are you feeling?” I can never explain how grateful I am to those who have reached out. You got me thinking.
I say, “Okay” or “I’m good.” Because that’s what you hope, you know.
The feeling of being an African American man in this country is so much more complex than that.
I can’t say I look at the murder of George Floyd and feel nothing. As the world burns around us, I’ve looked to the edges of the flames and reach for the outer edges, looking for a way out. Multiple times I’ve felt my hands burned by reaching for the flames to claw a way out. And I’m reminded that the heat is too hot to escape.
Shame on me and shame on anyone looking for the way out. We all should be in the center of the flames moving against them, in one direction, united. That’s not the case.
How do I feel?
Am I numb, sad or in shock?
I want to throw my laptop.
I want to stay inside forever.
I don’t want that tight feeling in my chest when an officer of the law slides behind me in traffic.
I’m a black life. How do I communicate that I matter?
Tears don’t do this feeling justice, and yet you still cry them. Yelling doesn’t do anything but make you seem aggressive. Nobody listens to aggression.
Maybe music. No, that doesn’t do it either. Social media only reveals how your ideology won’t be accepted or listened to. With every outcry to the black plight comes an insert of disillusioned inclusion.
You feel the heavy, pulled down from the shoulders. You don’t just feel this stuff in times like this. It’s always. For as long as I can remember, the issues of systemic racism and social injustice have been a part of my life.
You hold your head up proud. Things have improved.
Has it improved, or has it simply moved into a different wolf’s clothes?
Being a black man isn’t something you turn off and turn on when something happens or when the hashtags make it a cool thing to be.
Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Eric Thomas gave an inspiring speech titled “381 days” last weekend. It’s been in my head.
“As long as you’re dealing with the problem, you’re giving the problem the energy,” Thomas said. “Once two people come together and agree that they’re going to get in the boat. The disciples waited on Christ. He did not come. They did not get weary and they did not give up, they got their butt in the boat. The first thing we need to do is make a commitment, get in the boat and begin to row.”
Or in my words, stand in the center of the flames.
It won’t happen overnight.
The Montgomery Boycott lasted 381 days. It’s about making a commitment and being consistent. While this may be a hot topic for many today, for the rest of us, it’s life. Everyone needs to be in the same boat all the time.