If my words offend you, then I have struck a nerve
When an individual encounters a dangerous situation, they tend to take the flight or fight approach to conflict.
The fight approach signals that the person is prepared to wage “rain and hellfire” against their opponent as they seek to defend their rights. They refuse to back down, even if the odds are stacked against them. Instead, their turn to brute force in an attempt to triumph over their opponent. Like the captain of the Titanic, they are prepared to go down with the ship even at the risk of their own lives.
Another approach is that they take the flight approach which signals that they should immediately find an “out” in hopes that their need to escape will hopefully prevent them from meeting a grim or violent end. They proudly accept the title of “chicken”, clucking loudly as they make sound decisions based on their own need for self-preservation.
Then, there are those who choose neither, they instead freeze, praying that the moment will pass. Fear consumes them with no other emotion making sense in that present moment.
For many members of the church, we exist between the parallels of flight and freeze. We support interests that are tied to our faith. We hold tight to what feels familiar and safe, refusing to enter into the real world where the dark shadows of morality exist.
This weekend, another mass shooting occurred in Buffalo, New York. In another senseless, heinous crime, ten black lives were lost due to the cowardice of a white supremacist. Countless lives were woven together by their newfound trauma and the survivor’s guilt that will plague them for the rest of their lives.
As I watched the shooter being escorted towards the police vehicle, my teeth gnashed together in sheer disgust as I waited for the media stations to spin the story into victimhood for the perpetrator.
It was no surprise when it came. Like pouring rain, the cries of sympathy descended as new anchors blamed the problems on a disturbed child.
It didn’t matter that he had been under surveillance for a year. It didn’t matter that he had killed an animal. It didn’t matter that he believed in The Great Replacement Theory. It didn’t matter that he was on online forums talking to other white supremacists about his sordid, racist views.
None of it mattered. He was white and he was right. And according to some, he deserved our sympathy.
I thought of what would happen if the shoe had been placed on the other foot.
WHAT WOULD WE BE THEN? Would a person of color be granted the same luxury to hide behind their skin? Would they receive sympathy for their misguided actions?
We would be the target of the world’s disdain. We would be the killers, the gangbangers or even the terrorists with the sickest motives ever known to man. We would be the gangsters, the whores and the scuffed up, worthless shoes discarded by humanity once they had worn our soles into the ground.
There would be no sympathy for us. We would be tossed to the wolves, waiting on them to descend to tear into our skin until nothing remained but dusty bones left to disintegrate.
As the scales tip further away from true equality for people of color, society deems that unless proven “acceptable”, that one must remember their place. So, we exist, through the eyes of whiteness, warped beyond recognition as the world shivers when confronted by blackness.
When confronted by blackness, most choose to resort to their biases and misconceptions. There is no Resting Bitch Face allowed for a black woman. Without a warm smile and professional attire, a young black man is more likely to be shot than a white counterpart. To smile is to be seen as warm, loving friendly or even trustworthy. Failing to do so highlights the discomfort of those who wish to associate their racist biases with their own need for comfort.
When confronted by blackness, we become the brunt of microaggressions, and racially insensitive language is automatically assumed to be humorous. We will be the brunt of the joke, expected to take the insults disguised as funny for the sake of being agreeable. We are torn apart by words intended to sting and cause maximum damage. Then, we are left bare, our bones bleached by the sun as vultures of racist amusement circle again, looking for more pain and uncomfortable discomfort to inflict.
When confronted by blackness, many scratch their heads as they try to understand how marginalized people claim to be educated. It will always puzzle some that some black people do in fact have valid opinions and are able to contribute to the dialogue.
When confronted by blackness, we become the style to be emulated without recognizing the beauty and pain behind our history. We become trends, and blueprints but never the contributors, muses, or inspiration. We are torn apart for our natural features which are praised on other races. Our beauty is rated on the scale of Eurocentricity and praised for how well we conform. No one sees the burns of the hot combs soothed by Vaseline or the chemical burns from perms and relaxers. All they see is the outer reflection of conformity staring back at them behind pained eyes as we form complexes around our Afrocentric features.
WHEN CONFRONTED BY BLACKNESS, we become the “niggers”, the “boy”, the “ghetto” and the “ratchet”. Chains of slavery still rattle around our necks and ankles as we are reminded that in years past that we were considered inferior. Nobody cares to understand or comprehend the struggle of blackness and instead, we sink further down the echelons of society, shoved to the bottom as society reminds us of our place.
On the other hand, when we are confronted with whiteness, we are expected to coddle, support and protect even from the most heinous of acts. We are expected to bear the brunt of the failures of parents and the child’s own accountability.
No one cries for the black child, but we should be expected to carry poor Timmy’s cross. No one cries for Brandon who holds a gun, but tears stream down haggard faces for poor Aiden and his mental issues. Nobody says a prayer for Dequan whose life was cut short, but a hotline of prayer requests comes in droves for poor Kyle who just had to be dealing with something dark in his life.
As time goes on, we rewind our efforts. Still, we hold hope for a day that never comes, confronting our blackness with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.
Even as blood mingles with our tears for those we have lost.