Although I was absolutely willing to put my life on the line, it wasnt time yet. I wasnt ready to die on the front lines of this cause when I felt like I had done so little to move the culture forward. The best weapon I possessed was a pen, but based on the hate I continued to witness firsthand in person and online, I was afraid to even utilize that. Afraid of the repercussions: losing employment, losing friends, losing my safety. I felt like a coward and writing about it didnt feel like I would be doing enough. And beyond fear, I didnt know what to write about, at that time, other than that I was so incredibly angry!!! And to be angry as a resident of the Bible Belt was to be silenced and fearful. I didnt recognize the person I was morphing into. No longer protesting disappointed my deep desire for activism, removed any possibility for deflection of my pain and left me to suffer without remission.
The Kendrick album, To Pimp A Butterfly, was released that following March 2015 and finally, I felt some tiny form of relief. A moment to blast the bassline and live vicariously through his lyrics that over and over again gave a huge middle finger to an unjust society. Yet, it wasnt until recently that a very great friend reminded me that to tell a truth is a controversy in itself. Its thought provoking, it paints images, and it teaches perspective. Like the lyrics on that album, words hold the power we give them. I had to learn that it was author-activists Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas and others that wrote vivid accounts of day-today brutality against slaves that opened white people up to the idea that Blacks were indeed humans, suffering, and their allied support toward change was necessary. They became “woke.” And no, I’m not sorry, but thats not a shiny new slang to be abused as a synonym for “informed” or “made aware of.” To be “woke” is a state of consciousness of the Black struggle, Black excellence and our progression forward.
Protesting is indeed a necessary progression towards waking people up, but it is only the first phase. It is simply the flicking on of the light switch. Many millions of people have yet to even pull the covers back, afraid to face the blinding light of their own fear and guilt. Admittedly, I have to include myself in those millions of fearful people. Now three years later, and it feels like my generation of the black community overall is reformed and refocused, post-Mike Brown. None of us ever knew Mike personally, but my loves, he has awaken the dormant freedom fighters among us. Our lives will never be the same. Ever. I never seen so much spirited conviction in what it is to be Black and free in this country. We are now in the full swing of the new civil rights and more importantly a Black positivity movement. And you know its real when other communities see the opportunity to ride the wave of momentum. As has been the norm for decades, we have led the way on social progress. Everything, from trans rights to equal wages to immgration rights are getting their proper shine among the list of -isms that need to be deconstructed.
Spawned from our generation, women like the founders of BLACK LIVES MATTER are reshaping the focus. Countless writers in print and online, like myself, will direct the narrative. Artists like Kendrick and Solange will give voice and refuge to our pain. There are various moving parts and important roles in the fight for real change. Protests, orators, public service officers, journalists, grassroots organizers, celebrities, donors, authors, artists and everyday people that lean into the opportunity to correct bigotry will affect real change.
Our generation elected the first Black President. Our generation, a product of the 1990s Black pride that raised us, the the children of the leaders who took office in the 1980s, the after-affect of the Black Panthers of the 1970s, the reason for those who fearlessly desegregated schools in the 1960s and the grandchildren of the Great Migrators who journeyed towards a better future in the 1950s. We as Black people have never stopped fighting for freedom. In the spirit of Black August, I will no longer be silent. This is my offering of myself, my tribute. Lord, this is me leaning in. If there’s no justice for the people, then there’s no peace for those who oppose us.
Thanks for joking me 😘!