From the movie, Color Purple comes one of my favorite lines, “All my life I’ve had to fight.” This line is typically my first thought after hearing about one more injustice being done to Black folks in America. It feels like every day there is yet one more thing that a Black person can’t do if they expect to be untargeted, safe, and alive in this country.
I started keeping a mental list. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Top 10 Things Black People are not Allowed to Do or Be in America
- Sit in our apartments, minding our business, without getting killed.
- Open the garage door to let police officers in to prove we’re the homeowner without getting shot.
- Ride in a car with our white grandmother without getting pulled over and nearly arrested.
- Walk home in a black hoodie with Skittles and an iced tea without being killed.
- Get pulled over by the police while in a car with our fiancé and four-year-old daughter without being killed.
- Hold a cellphone in our grandparents backyard without being killed.
- Learn in school systems that are actually set up to serve us.
- Take a knee.
- Be allowed a fair game of tennis in the US Open.
- Be Black.
As a mother of two Black boys, I’m scared for them. However, it’s that same fear that fuels my energetic, relentless fight for them to create spaces where they are free to speak their truth and live their lives. Sometimes, though, the fight gets hard and weary. And I get tired of the frustrating reality that we even have to fight.
Perhaps that’s what Serena was feeling during the US Open Women’s Championship game as she fought to protect her integrity. The frustration. The fear. The vulnerability. The tears.
She was in a position, that as a Black woman, I abhor.
She was asking/fighting for approval from a white man who quite frankly didn’t give a damn about her, about her being a mother, about her integrity, and about her plea for truth. And actually, he didn’t care about his own. As my 8-year old son surmised, the referee was the real cheater because his lies cheated Serena out of her possible win.
As a mom, I saw the same vulnerabilities that I see in myself when I am desperately seeking someone else’s understanding about my truth or that of my children. It comes down to acceptance. I could feel Serena’s determination and fear coming through the television. I could feel her tears stinging the back of my eyes. Some say she threw a tantrum. I say, so what? She’s allowed. She was fighting for herself, but more so, for her daughter. Sorry to say Serena, he just didn’t give a fuck. And that was the problem.
I would LOVE to be able to just “be” – be Black, be free, be safe, be creative, be leaders, be treated fairly. I asked recently, “Where can Black people go where we are free to be ourselves?” “Wakanda,” they said.
Great – the one place that we could possibly go is fictitious and was made for entertainment purposes only. What do we do now?