Alton Sterling: Guilty of #BreathingWhileBlack
“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”– James Baldwin
Being Black in this country is the ultimate mind f*** and it has become exhausting. It’s like having Stockholm syndrome, while living with an abusive partner, wanting to flee, but not being able to leave the house (literally). And no matter what happens to you, no one helps. You are emphatically told that everything horrific done to you—past or present—is your own fault, to get over it, and to suck it up. You’re always encouraged to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, yet you have no boots.
For those of you who may not quite understand what #BreathingWhileBlack feels like, imagine feeling worried all the time. Worried for yourself, your friends, partners, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Constantly wondering if it will be one of them you see slain when you turn on the news.
#BreathingWhileBlack is your chest tightening and your air supply becoming constricted when you see flashing lights behind your car. It is a perpetual anxiety with micro-attacks throughout the day that never leaves your psyche. Even birthdays, holidays, and good times with friends are interrupted by this dreaded worry that infects your being.
Now take that worry and make it real.
It’s not a psychosis that can be treated. It’s tangible, because you know that at any moment someone you know and love could be killed by a cop for absolutely no reason other than being Black and no one will do a damn thing about it.
That is what #BreathingWhileBlack feels like.
I am so TIRED of this same story playing over and over again. Tired of the new “strange fruit” falling to the ground every other month. Tired of my people being killed over and over, even on video, and nothing happening.
NOTHING EVER F***ING HAPPENS.
No justice. Nothing. Just paid vacations and time off for murderers hiding safely behind a badge. Just the racist bigots who set up Gofundme accounts for their brethren while judges laugh at our pain. Then there is the expected online celebration by those who happily call us monkeys and justify an unjust death with, “Well they kill each other” when in actuality, white violent offenders who commit crimes against other whites still lead the nation. But since that’s not reported on as much, I guess I’ll digress.
The feeling of overall powerlessness and universal pain mixed with the trail of Black tears as long as the river Niger. Those tears, washing away blood-soaked streets until the next sacrifice.
These are the many reasons why we have no faith in these faux investigations and fake follow up. Name one case where a Black person was unjustly murdered by officers or otherwise—that we all saw for ourselves on video—who was actually charged properly and is really suffering and serving a full sentence? I’ll wait.
My younger brother lives in Louisiana; he is big and heavily melanated just like Alton Sterling. He stands at about 6’4″. All he has to do is BREATHE and he, too, would be considered a “threat” by some gung-ho good ol’ boy with a gun. They kill us with carte blanche and still, nothing.
Then there is my son, whom I worry about as well. He, who wiped tears from my face this morning as I read about the death of Alton Sterling. He, who asked why I was crying and all could do was tell him the truth. He, who will be 11 years old tomorrow, but still has to be told the truth for his own protection because Tamir Rice was only 12. His white friends don’t have to be trained nor concerned about how to submit if accosted by police so that they aren’t killed. They still get to think like kids. They are afforded a luxury that little Black children know is not reserved for them.
These are lessons you learn, Breathing while Black…
Neffer, affectionately known to her readers as “Boom,” is that one writer who says what everyone is thinking but is afraid to say. She creatively uses words as her medium to deconstruct and analyze the current state of affairs, politics, entertainment, and society from a millennial perspective. When asked why she writes, she says “I write because I don’t know who will tell generations after mine the truth about things happening today.” Keep up with Neffer on Instagram and Twitter @itstheboomshow. For other inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org.