Tag Archives: Black America

I am afraid, or, 2017: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I am afraid on the basis of all of my identities. That fear is not just of Trump himself, but of unchecked Republican control of the executive and legislative branches of our government, and likely soon the top level of the judicial branch as well.

As a black person, I’m afraid that Republican power will continue to deny that my and my people’s lives matter. That there will be no push from the federal government to hold police who kill unarmed black men and women accountable. That we will continue incarcerating absurd proportions of black and brown communities. That the fact that a businessman who was openly supported by the KKK was elected will give racists and white supremacists a larger platform, a stronger foothold, or even just make them more likely to take action in support of their beliefs.

As a woman, particularly as a sexually active woman of childbearing age who does not want to become a mother now or ever, I am worried about what full Republican leadership at the federal level means for reproductive rights. I have an IUD right now, that was made possible by the stipulation in Obamacare that requires all insurance companies to cover the cost of all forms of birth control. If (it pains me too much to say when) Obamacare is repealed, I will be required to pay for the medically necessary removal of my current IUD in 2018 and for the cost of inserting a new one, which can be upwards of $1000, if I choose to stick with this birth control option that has worked very well for me. If I choose to go with a lower cost, but also easier to misuse option, like the pill, I am scared that I’ll mess up and forget to take it one day, or forget to bring it with me on a trip, and then be faced with a potential unwanted pregnancy under an anti-abortion federal government. I am afraid of catcallers and other predatory men feeling emboldened by a president who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussy.

As a queer person, I am afraid that Trump himself doesn’t care about us, as he has released no policy plans for LGBT rights or HIV/AIDS. But I know how anti-LGBT the Republican party generally is: 2016 has seen pushback on marriage equality and adoption rights for same-sex couples, bathroom bills that have devastating consequences beyond just where we pee, endorsements of gay conversion therapy for minors, and a resurgence of “religious freedom” bills designed to allow businesses the ‘right’ to refuse to serve us. Trans women, especially trans women of color, are being killed every week in this country, and I have no hope that they will be protected under our new president-elect’s leadership. In fact, as the people who oppose QTPOCs very existence see how strong their numbers are, it’s hard to do anything other than expect the violence to get worse.

And speaking of the twisting of “religious freedom,” as a non-Christian, I am worried that a conservative majority in all branches of the federal government de facto pushes church and state closer together. I have extended family members who are Muslim (of the black power, Nation of Islam variety, but that didn’t matter to folks who abused and discriminated against them post-9/11). I am afraid for their safety in the red states of Georgia and Florida under a Trump administration.

As the daughter and granddaughter and niece and sister of people who have worked in the casino industry, literally for Trump himself and/or for people like him, I am worried that Republican control means even further erosion of what little safety net is there for our senior citizens who didn’t work fancy desk jobs with 401ks or pensions and now depend on Social Security and Medicare to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for themselves. I am afraid of what will happen to my father and my grandmother. I am worried that people who don’t make living wages will lose the scraps of support they are currently able to receive from programs like SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid, and won’t be able to literally feed, clothe, house, and care for their children. I am afraid that this administration will do nothing but widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, and further marginalize the voices of those being trampled upon.

As the daughter of a woman who has held down a full-time teaching job through multiple rounds of chemotherapy in order to keep her healthcare coverage, I am afraid that people will literally die as a result of this election. Obama was able to bring health insurance (albeit imperfect) to hundreds of thousands of people who did not have it before, and made it so that people couldn’t be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I am afraid that if my mom gets too sick to work, a post-Obamacare America will be one in which she cannot be insured, and my family will have to watch a disease she beat once before overcome her because we can’t afford the treatments.

I feel America’s distaste for people like me, a distaste that ranges from a lack of empathy to a straight-up hatred, writ large this morning, feel it in my bones and in my spirit more heavily than I’ve ever felt it before. This place was built by us, but not for us, and is about to be run by people who aggressively don’t support us. I feel unsafe and unwanted here on the deepest of levels. If I joke or even more genuinely consider fleeing, don’t tell me it’s my responsibility to fight through and fix this. I didn’t break it. I don’t know how to heal the divide between rural America and urban America, between white America and diverse America, between people who legitimately support Trump’s platform and ideas and people like me. I don’t know if it can be healed. I am not hopeful this morning.

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I am always amazed when I hear white folks speak about their fear of black people, of being the victims of black violence. They may never have spoken to a black person, and certainly never been hurt by a black person, but they are convinced that their response to blackness must first and foremost be fear and dread. They too live in denial. They claim to fear that black people will hurt them even though there is no evidence which suggests that black people routinely hurt white people in this or any other culture. Despite the fact that many reported crimes are committed by black offenders, this does not happen so frequently as to suggest that all white people must fear any black person.
Now, black people are routinely assaulted and harassed by white people in white supremacist culture. This violence is condoned by the state. It is necessary for the maintenance of racial difference. Indeed, if black people have not learned our place as second-class citizens through educational institutions, we learn it by the daily assaults perpetuated by white offenders on our bodies and beings that we feel but rarely publically protest or name. Though we do not live in the same fierce conditions of racial apartheid that only recently ceased being our collective social reality, most black folks believe that if they do not conform to white-determined standards of acceptable behavior they will not survive. We live in a society where we hear about white folks killing black people to express their rage. We can identify specific incidents throughout our history in this country whether it be Emmett Till, Bensonhurst, Howard Beach, etc. We can identify rare incidents where individual black folks have randomly responded to their fear of white assault by killing. White rage is acceptable, can be both expressed and condoned, but black rage has no place and everyone knows it.

–bell hooks

(via knowledge equals black power)

Mad. fucking. relevant. in the wake of the Dunn trial. And, you know, always. 

The History Of Afro Futurism and Black Science Fiction automatically begs the question: ‘Well, what isn’t futuristic about being Black in America?’ The entire history of Black America can be seen as a fundamentally futurological and science fictional enterprise, a perpetual biding on hope and struggling for change endeavor that frequently employs far flung visions of tomorrow and other more oblique speculative stratagems in pursuit of outcomes barely foreseeable in the near-present.

–Greg Tate’s course description for “The History of Afro Futurism and Black Science Fiction” at Brown University

(via Square Dancing with Giants)

James Baldwin, Question and Answer Period, 1986

Question: You talk about facing reality at least by White America. Don’t you think it’s time for Black America to realize that a great deal of its problems are trying to blame them on the past on White America? Isn’t it time for Blacks to face up to their own realities?
James Baldwin: Well, I’ve heard that before. I don’t think that Black people can be accused of blaming their situation on the past, or, indeed, blaming their situation on anybody. The situation is much too vivid, much to terrible for that self-indulgence. History is not the past. The situation as a Black community in this country is abominable because this is a racist country. Every institution in this country is a racist institution, and the very last thing that the public really wants is an autonomous Black community anywhere. There’s no point in blaming the Black community for being upset with the community because the community has always been at war with the republic. It’s not “the past,” and there’s no point in blaming Black people for it!

(via knowledge equals black power)

We have been here before. Our history becomes our present so often it becomes difficult to distinguish the two. Politicians and cable news hosts and the naïvely colorblind ask us to forget, most of the country obliges, and black people, again, are left to piece together the fragments of history, suffering, rage, and pain so that we may have hope for something better. Again we advocate for justice. Again we question what justice would even look like. Again we demand that black life be valued. Again we wonder why it never was in the first place. Again we weep, we pray, we march, we raise our voices. Again we prepare ourselves to be let down. And again we ask when will the moment come where we won’t have to go through this again. Again, we wait on the answer.

Again, We Wait for Answers: Justice for Renisha McBride | The Nation 

(via spinsterette)

However, I submit that, in point of fact, “we who are dark” have done precious little talking about our pain in this post-civil rights era and probably a bit too much posturing about our plans. if anything, we have a surplus of plans, many of them quite sound and longstanding and unrealized. What we do not have is a language, much less a political culture, that adequately addresses the complexity of our position(s), our predicament(s), and our pain(s) without recourse to euphemism. As a result, we are perhaps more inarticulate about our pain today – in the age of transnationalism and multiracialism – than we have been at any other historical juncture. I mention “pain” here, but it is better to speak more precisely of “suffering” and to do so in the fullest sense of the word: indicating not only pain, which everyone experiences, all oppressed people, at least, but also that which me must bear – uniquely and singularly – that which we must stand alone.

–Jared Sexton, “The Obscurity of Black Suffering” in What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, and the State of the Nation(edited by the South End Press Collective), p. 121

(via Square Dancing with Giants)

When you’re a black women in America trying to protect yourself you meet resistance. This is a country that has long taught us that black women aren’t even human. That you would have any right to protect your existence is beyond this nation’s imagination.

–A letter to Marissa Alexander from Mychal, part of the #31forMARISSA letters from men project

(via Big Barda’s Black Baby Girl)

Style has a profound meaning to Black Americans. If we can’t drive, we will invent walks and the world will envy the dexterity of our feet. If we can’t have ham, we will boil chitterlings; if we are given rotten peaches, we will make cobblers; if given scraps, we will make quilts; take away our drums, and we will clap our hands. We prove the human spirit will prevail. We will take what we have to make what we need. We need confidence in our knowledge of who we are.

–Nikki Giovanni

(knowledge equals black power)