It is a strange paradox how the world treats us as if we don’t matter or exist, while simultaneously immersing themselves in our culture. We are some of the best people. We love the hardest, bring a cool swagger to everything we do, are inclusive yet coquettish, aloof and hard to read—passionate, longsuffering, loyal—all of those things. Still, I wonder; what are we going to DO with all of this anger.
Oh, the Humanity
…seems to be missing from us lately, and some of us have become so cruel in our “I don’t give a fuck about anybody else but me and my people” mentality. I take pride in my identity; I find causes that I believe in and fight passionately for them in ways that I feel I can contribute. All the while, I try to remember that if I want what matters to me to matter to others at the very least I should continue to show respect for the lives of others. There is so much chaos going on in this world, every event and social issue cannot possibly relate back to my cause. At a certain point I have to examine whether I am comparing apples to oranges because of misguided emotion and bitterness.
There was fear in my heart just days ago, watching the news and the accounts of the terrorism in France. Terrorism is the kind of godlessness that makes you collapse to your knees and pray for the release that is the end of the world. Who wants to continue to live this way in suffering while bearing witness to the suffering of others? My Facebook page is a sea of red, white and blue in vertical lines—it is also an ocean of information that I simply did not know.
Apparently this past April, there was a similar terrorist attack at a college campus in Kenya. That familiar sinking feeling burrowed itself deeper in the pit of my stomach—why am I just now hearing about THIS attack? Why was there no Facebook flag app for THIS? I knew the reason—hence the feeling of dread in my belly. Fact: the lives of the ones with brown faces do not matter to the general public as much. The media does not find our plight interesting. The loss of lives in “savage country” is inevitable and deemed not newsworthy. We are the last page of your newspaper, a buried link on your social media timeline– we are an afterthought. The sheer outrageousness of this boils inside of me and it takes a whole hell of a lot of compassion to rise just above it in order overcome those feelings of resentment and bitterness. Who am I really mad at? And when the fire in my belly is extinguished, do I allow the ashes to cool into a pile of apathy? Perhaps cruelty? In our efforts to spotlight that we are people that do matter in this world, are we negating the value of other lives lost as a result of senseless violence…of other lives lost period?
When White People Speak
…they are immediately shut down and told to have several seats. For people who speak out of their asses, intent on trolling and spewing ignorance I am all for this. However, not every white or non-black person is wrong, or hateful or racist. Not every NON-BLACK cause is ANTI-black. Caring about the hundreds of people killed in a brutal terrorist attack does not mean that you do not care about the social and racial issues happening on your home soil. By that same token, changing a Facebook profile picture from one flag versus the other does not mean that one tragedy trumps the other. How much you care shows in your actions, in your charity and how you choose to advocate. Facebook profile shaming is frivolous and petty. We have to be better about not focusing on the negativity we see in the loyalty and passion of others and focusing on our personal goals we are trying to accomplish. No matter what cause you stand for it is not to be compared to that of another. I want to make sure that I can handle the load of apples that I carry without worrying about how the weight compares to your oranges.
Personally, I wish we could continue to focus on educating those who are ignorant and fighting alongside those who are in the know. The media will report whatever’s sexy—they will report American politics, movie news, the Kardashians—but it doesn’t mean that the general public has to care about these things. Just because we can’t control the media does not mean we have to be controlled by it. This anger, this frustration and attitude can definitely be channeled toward something more positive that will ultimately help us to better communicate our point of views and bring about changes to the way society thinks. We don’t have to be bullies! When confrontation occurs, I don’t want to turn it into a keeping it real session. When our necks start twisting and the word bitch starts flying around our whole argument becomes lost. We don’t have to play in the field with those who choose to play dirty and we can choose how we channel our negative reactions.
Who is this “we” I speak of? Me and you. The world is hurting, and it’s ok to admit that it’s not just black people. In our efforts to influence the world and serve as voices for our various causes we mustn’t lose sight of our humanity. We are not the only ones who feel pain, and we might be surprised to find that it is those who suffer alongside us who can turn out to be our biggest allies.
I’m glad you wrote this piece because it needed to be said. I’m not sure who said it but the quote was basically “just because we say save the Amazon Rainforest doesn’t mean we are saying fuck every other Rainforest.” That quote was in response to the #blacklivesmatter vs. #alllivesmatter debate. The thing is that cloth cuts both ways. While that is a very specific example I’m not sure when we got to the point in our society that two movements couldn’t exists at once without the other thinking they are being slighted. Personally, I care about a lot of things, homelessness, wildlife, clean water but at no point did I think it was a battle between those causes. Black lives DO matter but so do French lives and African lives. Those things can coexist harmoniously and I don’t feel like I’m slighting one while caring about the other. I also don’t think badly about people who can only focus on one cause at a time. Do you but understand everyone is like you but that doesn’t mean they don’t care on a significant level.
As far as the trendy Facebook picture flag stuff being followed IMMEDIATELY by “what about when this happened” post I just say to those people it’s YOUR responsibility to educate yourself about what’s going on in the world and if you see fit change whatever picture you want on Facebook. Be the movement, don’t wait for it. Between the 325 channels most of us have available via cable and countless news websites if you wanted to know what was going on in Kenya regarding the campus attack last year, one definitely could have found out about it. I remembering seeing stuff on T.V. about it and reading about it online, so to those who callously post things about “not hearing” about those attacks I just say you weren’t listening. The information was surely out there but you didn’t care enough at that time to follow the story. That isn’t a judgment or slight towards anyone as we all have actual lives to live but if you retro-actively care about something that you had every opportunity to care about while it was happening it makes me wonder if you REALLY care at all or if you are just participating in convenient outrage.
“Convenient outrage” I’m stealing that terminology. I couldn’t agree with you more on all points! I didn’t know about Kenya, no the media did not broadcast it as much, but also it is up to me to educate myself. Moreover, I empathize with other causes but it is not productive to compare.