This is a heavily edited version of an essay I began writing on August 9, 2014, after learning about Michael Brown’s murder by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. On August 19, I stopped writing.
I just finished reading Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, where she explored why the black men in her life, in her community, and in other southern communities, were and are dying at alarming rates.
17 year old Michael Brown was shot at least six times by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson Missouri. 22 year old John Crawford, a Black man, was killed by police inside of Walmart because another customer called the police and said he saw him with a gun. He was holding a BB gun that he picked up in the toy section of Walmart.
Black death, every day there is another black death.
James Baldwin said that to be Black and aware is to be constantly in a rage, and that rage eats at you. I can’t even explain how it feels to live knowing that you can be murdered by not just police officers, but any white person who feels “threatened” by you, just for existing as a Black person in this country. Neither gender, or age, or ability, and no amount of “respectable” job, clothing attire, or behavior will protect me. I can’t explain how it feels to rethink having children because I would be bring them into an anti-black world, where I will worry everyday about whether they will make it back home alive. The state sanctioned murder of black people has been happening and has never stopped; some cases are just getting more attention due to social media. I learned from reading the Prison Culture blog that blackness is constructed as devious, dangerous, threatening, abnormal, basically anything negative. Our existence as black people is criminal and contested. Modern policing, the criminal legal system, and other state institutions are all about the social control of an excess population, poor black people.