Truth to Power
Those are just some of the adjectives and descriptors used of Black people (for the sake of this post I will be referring to Black men; however, this does not limit or devalue the contributions, lived experiences, histories, and struggles of Black women).
Black men are COURAGEOUS in the skin they are in. Permanently tattooed with a shade of denigration, hate, and worthlessness.
Black men are BRAVE living in a world that hates the air they breathe and their very existence.
Black men are FEARLESS as they leave their homes for work, risking their very lives as they try to survive.
Black men speak TRUTH to POWER in boardrooms and offices across this country, with the very knowledge that that truth could cost them their jobs. Their homes. Their families. Their lives.
Black men are STRONG in the face of police brutality. If they don’t kill us, they will humiliate and emasculate us.
This is my daily reality.
So when I watched Episode 5 of Netflix’s “Dear White People” it struck a chord deep within my very existence as a Black man, and a human being.
(Spoiler alert. I will try my best not to give away too much information. Just go and watch the show.)
I see myself in Reggie.
No, I am Reggie.
He navigates worlds of Blackness, manhood, opportunity, and privilege.
His multiple identities and “communities of belonging” are fluid.
He is well educated. He is well versed in topics other than those that are defined as “Black.”
He walks and talks with confidence.
He is self-assured and walks with his head held high in spaces that he is told that he doesn’t “belong.”
He is unapologetically Black.
But he is also Black. A Black man.
And the system that we live in and the agents that are sent to uphold and enforce the systemic dehumanization of Black men, will never let us forget it.
It might be the silencing of our voices at decision-making tables.
It might be the appropriation of our physical empowerment or our intellectual capacity.
It might be the eye rolls. Or the “just the way it is” comments.
It might be us watching as folks who drip with incompetence get what you worked for. And then look back and smile and say that we were the “problem.”
Black men have a cloak of armour of resilience that is unmatched in our society. We are constantly under attack. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Psychologically.
Our hands are tied behind our backs. We are caged animals, dripping with anger, backed in to a corner, with nowhere to go.
If we lash out and fight back:
Dead. If not physically; emotionally, psychologically, and financially.
If we sit back and cower:
Our sense of self. Our pride. Our identity as “strong, brave, courageous” Black men. Gone.
So when Reggie is staring at that barrel of a gun, I saw myself.
I saw myself with a choice. A choice that was already made for me.
A choice that I have no control over.
(Or do I?)
A choice that I will do whatever it takes to make change and live in a society that doesn’t want me to be here.
A society that the boogie man is an educated (and unapologetic) Black man. A boogie man that White men fear more than fear itself; something to be eradicated and destroyed in plain sight.
Reggie made a decision.
And so have I.