Those who follow my blog have undoubtedly noticed that I no longer follow my regular Friday posting schedule. A schedule I’ve kept to faithfully, barring a few holidays here and there, for many, many years.
I regret that. I still feel a pang every Friday that I don’t post because it’s been a significant part of my life for so long. I’ve even won awards for my blog, but the past few years have been so eye-openingly horrible as far as race in America is concerned, I just don’t want to do it anymore.
Why? Well, it’s a combination of things. My personal and professional priorities are different in the wake of the pandemic, for one. I’ve acquired a new layer of maturity having lived through a time when I had to acclimate to wearing a mask, lest breathing around the wrong person lead to my death. And the strength and discipline I’ve built prompted a very independent need to respond, in my own way, to the race-related furor that accelerated during the tenure of that last person in the White House.
Of course, it was always there, bubbling beneath the surface like toxic sludge. Just waiting for the wrong person to take their eyes off the path and end up slowly sinking to their death like an animal in the La Brea tar pits.
But it’s one thing to absorb all of the highly publicized atrocities Black people have suffered at the hands of the police. It’s another thing to face an endless barrage of eerily similar narratives as people who look like me are harassed, aggravated and killed for: walking, sleeping, jogging, speaking, selling, gathering, shopping, you name it. It’s something else to buy into this whole “I want be an advocate, and I’m just here to learn…” sentiment.
That’s a trap. It’s a sop, and whether anyone wants to admit it, more often than not it’s a lie and a shady ass manipulation tactic designed to distract, to delay meaningful action. To prevent Black people from focusing on what is important: learning, protecting, enriching and providing for ourselves, socially, economically, legally.
Not entirely, of course. There are degrees to everything, right? For some, one or more of those advocacy/learning statements is true.
I’ve learned a lot these past few years, and I’ve walked around in a Black body for four decades now, reminded at intervals that my skin is a barrier, an excuse for some to try and force me into a box I have absolutely no intention of fitting into.
I’ve been privy to a whole new lens as the war on Black bodies has heated up. And I’m just not buying into this shock and disbelief, and the associated requests, even demands, for explanations of a situation that to my logical mind, requires nothing of the sort.
What do you need to learn? What racism is? Who’s suffering and why? What you can do about it? Why you should care?
We learned most of those answers in Kindergarten. It’s common sense. Even the most insulated person, sheltered and protected from the graphic tragedy porn that meanders its relentless way across our various screens at all hours of every day, can’t help but to absorb some of it.
Racism in America is not a new thing. Racism built this country. Black people have been here, building, teaching, sharing, leading movements, and being taken from since the beginning. So, where does this elaborate shock and surprise, this whole, “I had no idea” come from? It’s nonsense.
If anything, one may have brushed it off because it did not impact you directly, and that is understandable. I’ve mentioned before that I had no idea the depth and breadth of the pressure that Black men are under until I began to absorb the news differently, and Black men, encouraged by the number of open, more thoughtful ears, were able to quickly share their firsthand accounts via social media.
One of my oldest friends told me stories I’d never heard him share before about having guns pointed at his head, and being forced to comply with the most humiliating requests by police for no reason other than, “you fit the description.” I cried. My heart softened, and my empathy grew.
It continues to grow. This month as I learned some new things during AAPI celebrations, I made very interesting connections, and as I did, my desire to wring as much joy as I possibly can from my life grew apace.
Some months ago I saw a quote somewhere that said, “Black joy is its own form of protest.” That has become my mantra, and it has changed everything.
How I engage with social media is a primary example. First — and I would encourage anyone, regardless of race, to limit and curate their social media experience diligently — there are few if any posts on my Instagram feed about race. Now I post pictures of my amateur cooking because healthy, plant-based eating is one of my top priorities.
I limit discussions of the latest race-related horrors from the news from everyone. My friends and family now know to ask me if I want to talk about such things before they launch into a diatribe about the latest murder or nonsensical Karen incident.
The details in the news might be a bit different, enough to make me shake my head like, really? But the theme in such tales is usually the same. How could it not be? The common denominator is a Black body, and a callous, determined lack of humanity and care for it.
Therefore, I have no interest in having my mood destroyed, or feeling my chest tighten with anxiety as I watch one of my people tortured on camera. I don’t want to cry over the loss of life, the damage to a family, the destruction of a dream. I have no interest in the latest big company lip service, distributed to secure their brand image and ensure they continue to collect Black dollars. I have no energy and no time for that.
That’s why my blog died.
The passion I once felt for analyzing the weekly news around race and business, or race and the workplace, or race and the media, it’s gone. My desire to present a reasoned argument pointing out the whys and wherefores, it has died.
Joy is my new passion. Health, positivity, learning, growth, more health – I’m obsessed, y’all – I have no inclination toward anything else.
Recently someone asked comedian/actress Amanda Seales how does she remain hopeful in light of all the race-related fuckery out there today. Her Instagram response was, “I’m not hopeful. I’m purposeful.” I felt that, and my purpose? A purpose I would encourage all Black people to adopt? It’s to be joyful. To live my best life, to coin the popular cliché, and to encourage all people, especially my Black people, to do the same.
I will not fall for that old sad-faced banana in the tailpipe, “Well, I just want to learn…” There’s a marvelous invention out there. It’s called Google. Barring that, open your eyes and look around. Open your ears and listen. I’m busy: expanding my mind, strengthening my body, and building a legacy that I can be proud of.
Despite legislators recent attempts – some, tragically, successful – to minimize race related education and activity in schools and while voting, everything you want to know about race is out there, easily accessible. And I’m still here, and so are many of my brethren, for more thoughtful, personal, and nuanced discussions – should we choose to be a resource for you in that way.
But the days of me jumping to educate, to soothe, to explain? That’s over. Dead. I need all of my energy to be purposeful, like Amanda. In the legal realm, in the social realm, in the arts, in school, in media, at work, in my pockets, everywhere. And I whole heartedly encourage more Black people to adopt this attitude.
Unless, of course, you are a teacher, a trainer, or an educator of some kind, and this is, in fact, your job. Then I thank God for you, and I hope you routinely prioritize joy and self-care and mental and physical health because the nature of your work, your calling, means that you need them more than anyone.
As a professional storyteller, if I was to make a grandiose statement, I’d say my people, the world, needs me whole. Body, mind, spirit. You can’t pour from an empty or broken cup, right?
I’m eternally grateful that so many of my people, Black, White, and other, in all industries and walks of life, are still engaged in the fight because my pen? She has other interests. These days her race-related musings and ideas are fictionally inclined, not purely fact based.
I’ll still blog. I’m a writer. I won’t be able to help myself. But things have changed so much in this world, that my blog, like me, has had no choice but to change with them — for survival, for health, for peace.