Black People Aren't Allowed to Be Human

There is no room for humanness when you are expected to behave in a subservient way in every and any circumstance.
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The Ferguson verdict has set off a rupture of emotions across the country and around the world. City to city, thousands of Americans have protested and marched in a fight against injustice, while others try to rationalize Officer Darren Wilson's killing of an unarmed teen. I'm almost numb to this pain. Every year, this country chooses a dead black poster child to remind us how undervalued black lives are. I'm convinced that is the message. Mike Brown was our reminder this year and while I never knew the young man personally, I know him through more familiar faces. Mike Brown is my nephew, he is my cousin, he is my brother, he is my friend, he is my neighbor, he is my old classmate, he is my boyfriend, he is my father, he is my future son. Despite the negative press associated with the deceased victim, it is clear that Brown was unarmed. Despite the inconsistent witness reports that described his demise, it is clear that an unarmed teen was shot dead by an armed policeman. I won't rehash the ongoing conversation of why the grand jury decision is unjust and I will not try to convince the delusional population why this is a matter of race. All I can say is in order to survive in this country, black people can not be human.

Black people are to be extremely submissive, disciplined and timid. There is no room for anger, distress or any other confrontational emotion. Brown's step-father's "Burn this bitch down" reactionary comment was highly criticized although he was reasonably distraught over the unjust loss of his child. There is no room for humanness when you are expected to behave in a subservient way in every and any circumstance. We constantly have to prove our gentleness to those who approach us with aggression. I wrote a funny article called, "6 Ways to Stop Being an Angry Black Woman," and though the piece poked fun at the racist stereotype, it rings true for black reality as a whole.

This is a country where black kids aren't allowed to be confused or in pain. White teen killers like Ethan Couch have been prosecuted for their crime but not without mention of their "troubled" life or depression (or "affluenza"). A white kid shoots up a school? He needs counseling. He was bullied. His parents are divorced. *Insert sympathetic excuse here.* A black child allegedly robs a corner store? Shoot him dead. Justify his death. Spread news of his spotty misdemeanor record. There is no sympathy for the black child. There is no pass for a black kid to just be "troubled," "young and dumb" or "carefree." We don't get that privilege. I'm from Bronx, NY and I can tell you from experience, public reaction to a loud set of black or Latino teens on the subway is completely different from the reaction to a loud set of white teens. Jonathan Lethem's book The Fortress of Solitude asks, "At what age is a black boy when he learns he's scary?" Black boys (and girls) don't get to be carefree. Every move that they make are to be made with severe consideration for law enforcement and society. Jazmine Hughes breaks this down in her Gawker article perfectly.

There is no sympathy for the black life. Mike Brown is dead yet the media continues to paint him as a monster. Ferguson riots over injustice yet the discussion is how "animalistic" the angry mob is. Interestingly, that negative coverage is hardly used for predominantly white riots like the Pumpkin Patch riot or any sports-related riot. Washington, D.C.'s former mayor Marion Barry died this month and TMZ headlines the story "Crack Mayor Dead at 78," while the death of Glee actor Cory Monteith, who also suffered substance abuse, received more tasteful treatment.

We don't need anymore reminders, America. We get it. The point has been made with each drop of blood. We don't get to react without consequence. We don't get to be human. Black people are to remain uncomfortably fearful to make everyone else feel more comfortable. If that truly is the underlying message of this world, I bravely challenge it. I will be "scary," I will be angry, I will be loud, and I will be vocal until there is equality and value for our lives.

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