The uprisings are occurring, and already groundbreaking work is being accomplished. People in power who seek to co-opt the protests for publicity stunts are swiftly being found out and discredited, while many local governments are finally being held accountable. All of this has taken place during a global pandemic which has killed over 128,000 people in the United States, as well as sparking an increasingly dire financial collapse. In a little over nine days, a predominantly White protest base has finally brought the question of dismantling police forces to the forefront, and the whole world has cheered. All the Black people in the United States have one question for them: where have you been this entire time?
Whenever we bring up the issue of slavery, so many of you are quick to announce that you never had any slaves, and flounce away as if we were stupid for posing the issue. It is interesting that despite not owning any slaves, most of you think nothing of the prison industrial complex, full of Black and brown people who do everything from producing goods to fighting fires, often for pennies per hour, or sometimes for no wage at all. Also apparently irrelevant is the agricultural industrial complex, full of brown people—many of whom are migrants and completely vulnerable both legally and financially—who are paid nothing, or next to it, so that food can be cheap. The political system is seen as impeccable despite very few of us becoming elected, and even fewer getting paid for electoral work despite a growing knowledge that the use of our labor has helped you. Even now, you demand that we vote or run for office, that we participate on your contrived terms instead of daring to see it on ours, or even, at minimum, acknowledge systemic flaws. No, you never owned any slaves, because to you, slavery is just some ghost atrocity of the distant past, not a living reality still breathing down your necks.
Whenever we point out the fact that Black women have been used to help care for your families while being treated abhorrently, too many of you are quick to point out that you, personally, never raped any of them, yet keep in the back of your mind the notion that we are crazed with lust for you. It matters little that White women and men are portrayed as beautiful, and only that natural beauty is recognized. No one had better say anything against Thomas Jefferson for his writings, though he raped a Black woman for years, and so few even know her name. You think it perfectly acceptable to degrade us to our partners in any interracial relationships, and the only thing Black women are supposedly good for is sex. No, you never raped any Black women, but you will stand by and let us be devalued to your heart’s content.
Whenever we mention the lands that were taken from us or anyone else, you smugly point out how small your house is, how you rent just like us, or that we are irresponsible with our finances. Banks advertising predatory loans exclusively to us rolls off your back, as well as the systematic devaluation of Black-owned property. Gentrification and displacement are hailed as the successful transformation of slums and blight, while you shove us out of your face to realize your dreams. Constant commercial rent increases are seen as “the cost of doing business” while the only people who can afford the “costs” are people who look like you. No, you never took any land, and you honestly believe that we deserve our current vulnerability because we were too weak to keep ours.
Black people are particularly incensed about the environmental movement, which has focused solely on whatever you thought was important. Even though most of us have no yards and no land, you call us irresponsible if we eat meat, grow no gardens, or fail to buy organic produce. We tell you about how we have been trying to breathe clean air for years, and you tell us to get out of our cars and walk or ride bicycles, even though fewer of us drive cars than you. We are berated by our consumption of fast food and its waste even though we never asked for these chains to take over our communities, and if we have time to avoid them and cook for ourselves, we do. Instead, you put the landfills and the power plants in the neighborhoods you chose for us during segregation, call us dirty, devalue our communities, and then call them beautiful once you seize them.
Our work is never good enough for you, and you constantly change the rules. When all of us were trade workers, you demanded that we either be slaves or work for lower wages than you would accept. To add insult to injury, you then took away jobs with industrialization, and refused to hire us despite our experience. When college became the trend, you refused to admit us and dismissed our colleges and training programs as inferior to yours while knowing nothing about their rigor. After industrializing education and training as well, you made it impossible for us to either afford the process or obtain work after we completed them, but we are the lazy, stupid ones. The second depression is upon us, jobs are going away that will never return, and despite your greed, you still mock us by saying, “Get a job.”
You hate us because of the lies you told yourselves about us. To you, we always talk too loudly, too much, and without intelligence, no matter the topic, time of day, or the circumstances. Our mere presence is so fearsome because you told yourselves that we are all animals with no propensity to do anything but copulate, and that you were there to smooth out our rough edges. You barely hire us—and even then, only to do work you despise—but all of us are useless in your eyes, and lack the drive and ambition to be more. Whether we eschew ambition or embrace it, assimilate to capitalism or defy it, you are always relentless in your pursuit to sabotage our efforts and display our inherent worthlessness.
Other people hate us because of lies you told them, so much so that they prey upon the vulnerability you created. Latasha Harlins was not killed by a White person, George Floyd’s murderer was accompanied by several other non-White people, and you are not the only people who call the cops on us for living our lives. Because you decided you love Asian culture, you have inspired their denigration of us and complicity in your narrative. After eating Chicano food, you tell them that they have hard work ethics for starting their businesses and owning their homes. Above all, you caution them against becoming us because we are the trash that one only uses to do unpleasant tasks.
More than all this, we hate ourselves because you hate us. Too many of us despise each other because we are light and Blackness can be undetectable, while the others view dark Black people as trash because our Blackness is visible and everything dark people do is “more authentic”—the scourge of colorism. The least successful hate the ones who made it, who are seen as paragons in our communities, while the most successful view those struggling as malfunctioning failures. If we live amongst ourselves, our communities are rancid while if we live outside our communities, we have no sense of self. Even our names are scrutinized as being too Black or not Black enough based on standards we cannot choose. After sowing this discord, you mock our lack of unity as you continue to instigate more self-hatred both in person and online.
For far too long, you would have rather believed anything about us in the world other than that we were capable of pain and you caused it. Too many of you will believe any lie that one of you spreads about how Black people “really are,” and we have born the price of those lies. You keep monsters in power because they look like you and keep you in comfort, and you rationalize our maltreatment. You truly believe that we have no interest in maintaining stable, uneventful lives instead of lives of stress and uncertainty—and you take no responsibility for choices you have made for us. You even believe that we are to blame for our own executions, which you have conducted since before this country existed, rather than believe that people hunted us for sport. While you march, chant and scream for George Floyd, more than none of you were willing to believe that he could have died from preexisting conditions while you watched his execution.
You allow yourselves to be sporadically dedicated, and only when you think you will garner excessive attention for your dedication. We get almost nothing for voting for you, working with you, comforting you, and supporting you—and you get everything whether you support us or not. None of us can trust you to care about any problem enough to fix it, but we better not dare refuse to acknowledge your feelings and lift your grievances. The American Revolution was a failure that allowed White people to fight White people to kill and control Black and brown people, but it empowers any efforts you make for our supposed benefit, and we all know that too many of you cannot wait to go back to ignoring every Black tear and heartache in favor of your own comfort. You saw and enacted violence for centuries, and did nothing to change it; in nine days of your involvement, people across the world are discussing how to reconfigure society. How long does it take more White people to care about the plight of Black people? 400 years—and Facebook.