This is a love letter to my beautiful brothers and sisters with melanin skin. Skin kissed by the sun created by God in whose image we were made. Our souls radiate glory and God saw fit to have the radiant warmth touch not only our souls but our skins as well. The radiance of our skin is truly something to behold. Shades expressing not only the personality responsible for our birth but warms and lightens the very places we live, work, and play. We change our environments.
Again we had to take pause and look in shock, with the twin companions of sadness and anger as a brother fell in a neighborhood street because of violence. I can only imagine the fear, adrenaline, anxiety, and fight for human survival radiating within his mind and heart until those last shots led him to see face to face our Creator.
It makes us once again wonder, “Do I matter?” “Is my life, our lives so fragile…we can’t do normal activities in the places we live? What is this America?”
Kendrick Lamar asked the same questions,
“You hate me don't you?
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture”
(Kendrick Lamar, The Blacker the Berry, 2015).
Frederick Douglass had an answer for this sometime ago when life was significantly worse for Black Men and Women. Mr. Douglass said, “I utterly deny, that we are originally, or naturally, or practically, or in any way, or in any important sense, inferior to anybody on this globe” (Frederick Douglass, What the Black Man Wants, 1865). I want to remind you of this beautiful people. It was true in 1865, 1965, and true in 2020. We are not inferior. We never have been in anyway. We can be inundated at times like these with messages by well meaning people we are lacking full agency, vitality, and power. We can get messages which can verge on patronizing, but let the truth speak.
If I can simply whisper in your ear, “This is the emancipation of black brothers and sisters.”
Situations like Ahmaud Arbery, Jason Simms, Sean Green, and others can suck. We can not exist under some illusion we can end the negative and violent activities of others unless we go to the dark place of controlling others for the sake of safety. These sad experiences and others like them are part of humanity. Again brother Douglass is helpful to our understanding and our freedom to respond appropriately. In 1872, he gave a speech on self-reliance stating, “Nothing can bring to man so much of happiness or so much of misery as man himself. Today he exalts himself to heaven by his virtues and achievements; to-morrow he smites with sadness and pain, by his crimes and follies” (Frederick Douglass, Self-Made Men, 1872).
Think about this for a moment. We have lived in a situation in which people from various ethnic groups were bonding together to address a pandemic. Black and White Americans demonstrating in the face of death virtues and achievements. Then in one video post, we observe the misery of humanity which was executed months earlier. Now we sit, talk, and run to deal with this misery.
What I am asking you my beautiful brothers and sisters is in the face of misery and demonstration of the full ugliness of humanity in the form of murder, do not forget your own humanity. Historically, we have demonstrated what it means to be the moral compass and conscience of this place called America. Fear, wrath, and vengeance are not emotions which lead us to greater freedom but simply enslaves us to bitterness and calls for policies which in the long term can create more harm than good.
In the end, people are not going to fully understand what it means to live as Black men or women in America. But what people can understand is what it means to live free from harm. We have in our population the skills, intellect, experience, political will, and financial capital to produce more achievements which can secure greater freedom for one another. We are amazing and creative. It will require sacrifices and intentional efforts to prioritize the good of each other and society will follow.
Lastly, we our natural human right to live free from harm cannot be begged for, pleaded for, or secured through polite negotiation. If we have learned anything this year, elected officials are willing to prioritize their agendas ahead of our own lives and freedom. Our freedom, our emancipation from harm and simply to continue to live as full contributors in this society has to be demanded without equivocation.
So continue to shine like the sun in this cloudy atmosphere. Radiate so brilliantly in the all the areas of society in which we participate, those who are darkened by the clouds of racism and control will be led to a better and brighter day.