At the moment, my heart is heavy. I have witnessed recently, on numerous occasions, such inexplicable atrocities in this country against black people. My people. To a certain degree, it almost seems like a shocking flashback to 1966 instead of 2016. It seems that just when I feel so much promise for this country, there is always some kind of event that reminds me of how far we still have to go until we are a more inclusive society.
I am a black man. To be a black man in America seems at times to be a death sentence waiting to be executed. At any moment, without cause, you can be beaten, shot, killed, or lynched, simply for being just that: a black man. It’s like the humanitarian law of all lives being equal simply become inept when a black person is involved. As if our blackness, my blackness, somehow darkens, dims, and dissipates the light of which the law of this country was built upon.
Simply put, to be a black man in America is to be public enemy number one. Our government, our society, and most importantly our police force, will seek you out, cripple you, and by all means, seek to destroy you. It seems that every summer, it is now becoming an open season for white men to kill young black men. It’s as if hunting game in the back yard of their country homes is not enough, their thirst has now yearned for the flesh they have always inherently despised: this country’s number one threat: Black men.
To be a black man in America is to constantly live in a state of awareness. Awareness of your skin and more importantly, how others react to the color of your skin. I live in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City with the second largest black population in the country, and yet I still encounter moments when I am reminded of my blackness. It’s late at night, or even mid-afternoon, I am walking from the subway back to my brownstone and while the sidewalk is too narrow for both of us to walk, I walk pass a white woman carrying her purse. As if the hairs on the back of her neck crawl as I pass her, she immediately clutches her purse for dear life and looks at me with defensive eyes. I walk past her and I am reminded of my blackness. I see a policeman and while this individual in theory is supposed to protect me, I know that at any moment I can be called, pushed up against a wall, forced to have my hands up and legs spread and frisked.
Why? Because in 2016, I still live in a country, in a land, and in a city where I can have my human rights and privacy violated strictly based on the color of my skin.
Not only am I just a black man, moreover, I also happen to be a gay black man. As if the racial discrimination is not enough, I am even more aware of my status as a double minority. All too often, the voices of gay black men go unheard, for fairly obvious reasons. If you can be wrongly executed for just being a black male, why the hell would you add your homosexuality to boot?
Dealing with one demon is better than two, and for many black men like me, that is a choice they make. I, however, am not one of those men. Just as I wear the darkness of my skin as proudly as one can, I equally embrace the blessing that is my sexuality and my humanity. To be a gay black man in this country is to be willing to be hated and misunderstood at the same time: hated for your skin and misunderstood as a multitude of the masses have yet to decipher and comprehend the essence that is human sexuality.
To be a gay black man is to be willing to live at times, in a state of complete isolation. If a black man is innocently killed in the street, your black community can comfort you during this state of injustice. However, when it comes to homosexuality, I have to deal with the white man and the brother man, as homophobia knows no boundaries, and more importantly, no race nor skin color.
It’s hard enough existing as black in this country, and to add my sexuality to the mix at times seems like a murder that is patiently waiting around the corner. However, I am no one’s victim: Black or gay, and I will be dammed if my people be killed and patronized at the same time. I am not responsible for other individual’s racism, ignorance, or hatred, and as with every test in my life has proven: I always rise.
To be a black person in this country, without regard to gender or sexuality, is a holistic human experience of struggle that cripples and unites us all at the same time. History always repeats itself and there is no denying it when it comes to the plight of black folks.
From slavery, the Master thirsted for the power to control black people. From the 1960s, white America hungered for the disenfranchisement of the human rights of black people. Now in present day 2010s, white men seek out the initial desires to tame the beast that they view as black society. As I say again, history repeats itself, and just as constant is the racism and hatred white society has for blacks, we cannot deny the ever powering presence of the perseverance that is the black people.
To be a black American is to not just understand suffering, struggle, and injustice, but it is to embrace it. For only when you embrace the poison that seeks to destroy you, can you then release its insistent desire of power over you. To be a black American is to be resilient. To be a black American is to dream of a better tomorrow while knowing that within this present moment, you can lose it all. Simply put: to be a black American is to be a warrior.
I am a warrior. Why do I say this, you might ask? I am a warrior because, while other little boys dreamed of monsters under their bed at night, I endured nightmares of real life monsters of the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses outside my bedroom window.
I am a warrior because, I know the fear of being a child and hearing that a black man, around the age of your own father, was beaten and dragged by his head down a dirt country road until he was decapitated in a town only a 45 minutes’ drive away from yours.
I am a warrior because, I know the feeling of being called a nigger and a faggot in the same damn day.
I am a warrior because, I see my brothers and my sisters beaten, shot, and killed every year and yet I still dream of a day when justice will satiate the toxic thirst that dwells within this country.
Ultimately, I am a warrior because, while this society may hate me and desire to destroy me: I always rise. I always rise because it is in my blood, it is my birthright. I am descended from incredible generations that experienced and fought battles I can never fathom. I am descended from generations who bravely and boldly had an unconquerable soul.
To all of my black people who seek justice, peace and most of all healing during this trying time, I want you to know that you too are warriors. We the People, are all warriors. While we have come so far and we obviously have quite a ways to go, yet we can use the legacy that is our own American history as a testament that our struggle is not in vain.
Right will always prevail over Wrong. Light will always inundate Darkness. As we always have, we must keep the faith that this country too, one day shall rise.
One day this country shall rise from its moral desolation to one that is just, and not only seeks justice for crimes committed against our own people, but is radically humane.
From Trayvon Martin to Alton Sterling, to all of the countless other black women and men who are martyrs: my heart, prayers, and soul goes out to you all. As with every attempt at vying for greatness, there will be undeniable failures along the way. I pray for the future of this country, and that one day we can acquire a piece, if any at all, of the unthinkable: a just nation and land.
Until then, my faith remains as strong as the blood of my ancestors that runs through my veins that our day will come. I always rise. We always rise. And in time, We the People will rise, together, against the racism, homophobia, injustice, and intolerance that is this country.
This piece originally appeared on unlenfantterrible.wordpress.com.