Friends and enemies, sisters and brothers, I have a confession. I started out outraged, but now I'm tired. I'm tired of Eric Garner. I'm tired of Michael Brown. I'm tired of John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Yvette Smith, Eleanor Bumpurs, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tarika Wilson and the host of invisible victims who didn't get the national spotlight when the police, their families' tax dollars paid for, put an end to their lives. I’m tired of the immediate character assassinations that follow, and though it just happened over the weekend, I’m already tired of people trying to equate their systematic killings with the anomaly of the two officers killed over the weekend in Brooklyn.
I'm tired of protests and rallies where we gather, cry, share our stories, chant and go home. I'm tired of social media fights with otherwise rational people who just can't seem to believe the evidence of their own eyes. I'm even tired of hope — hoping grand juries see the same thing we see on video, hoping the nation's justice system does right by all of its people.
At the root of it, I'm really tired of white America's grand delusion. I don't care that masses of people think/hope/pray that I'm less intelligent, ambitious, beautiful or gifted. It makes no difference how I feel about their feelings, because their system is going to do what it does. But what I do want, like every woman shedding an unhealthy relationship, is some damn honesty.
Black people can spend lifetimes trying to get white people to connect with the fact of their own privilege. Many of us even think it's our duty. It's the burden of the Talented Tenth (and if you don't know what that is, that's what Wikipedia is for): Elite blacks must be twice as qualified, twice as smart and three times as hardworking to get half as far — which takes all the smooth, shrewd, cool one can muster--and on top of all that be constant educators, ready at the drop of a hat to explain historical context, gently challenge racist statements, prove ourselves exceptional (but not threatening!) to a bunch of sheep.
Sorry W.E.B., the mission failed on a critical point: You can't teach someone that you are human. If they don't see it, it's because they don't want to.
And I say, OK. I'm no longer pushing for enlightenment. Be just as racist as you want to be, outside of my presence. Eat your Paula Deen, have your blackface Halloween parties and proclaim Iggy Azalea the Queen of Hip-Hop. But be honest.
Be honest that our stolen labor made this country the economic power it is today. You'd be surprised how much you profit when you don't bother paying anyone. Be honest: We fought your wars, then came home to lynch ropes for wearing the uniform, were denied the G.I. Bill and loans to build homes that your family enjoyed. Be honest: Our tax dollars paid for the hospitals that wouldn't treat us, the schools that wouldn't teach us, the courthouses where we saw no justice.
Nah, you don't want to be honest. That would be admitting the welfare your grandparents enjoyed on the backs of mine is a debt that's still owing. It would expose the insecurity that needs the lies to defend things that could never be justified. Lies like blacks are more prone to breaking the law, but #crimingwhilewhite is just kids being kids.
American culture says children are innocents needing protection, but if blackness equals guilt, then black kids can't really be children. A study by the American Psychological Association released earlier this year bears that out. Researchers showed hundreds of white men and women photographs of children of all ages and races. The whites, on average, overestimated black children's ages by four and a half years, and rated them as looking less innocent than the children of other races. This mental disorder explains how a police officer could shoot Tamir Rice, 12, on a Cleveland playground and say the boy looked 20. It's why 6-foot-4-inch Darren Wilson could compare himself tussling with a teenager to "a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan."
Racism doesn't only occur when someone white burns a cross or spews the N-word. It's a myriad of subtle and not-so-subtle threads that form a net; biases that make up an entire system that must be disabled one way or another.
But I'm laying my burden of teaching down. White people, do your thing. Be honest, or don't. Get educated or nah. Evaluate our shared history or ignore it. But don't expect me to coddle ignorance or put lies softly to sleep anymore. Like I said, I'm tired. Oh, you thought I meant of fighting?