It has been a long week in the middle of a long month in the middle of one of the longest years of my life. I talk a lot. It’s my job. I tell people about things I think, what I feel, and what I know to be true for a living. I’m a professional mind speaker in some ways. I come from a long line of women who have spoken their mind, but they never did it professionally. I guess I really am my ancestor’s wildest dream.
I’m also a writer. In writing, a person needs to observe. So I’m observing. A lot of you have a lot of things to say. You’re learning about racism. You’re coming to epiphanies about things you’ve never considered before that Black people have always had to face. You’re understanding, maybe for the very first time, what systemic racism in this country looks like.
You’re asking questions about how to fight systemic racism. You’re reading books. You’re listening to podcasts. You’re attempting, maybe for the very first time, to elevate Black voices because you’re realizing that those voices get suppressed far too often in discussions.
I’m observing. And I’m thinking over the things that you are saying.
I’ve lived around well-meaning but clueless white people my entire life. I’ve spent many years explaining. I’ve ripped band-aids off of wounds that were inflicted by that obtuseness to make people understand. I’ve spoken myself hoarse. I’ve done everything but make stick figures to try to get people to understand. Several years ago, I realized that this approach does nothing but drain me of my energy and open up traumas for people who don’t see me as a human being of equal value in the first place.
But you get it, you say. I see you saying you get it.
I thought I’d be more excited for you. That I would feel the kind of joy a parent does when after many tumbles, their toddler successfully walks across a room. I thought I’d breathe a sigh of relief because you were able to break through to the other side finally. Yet here I sit, and instead of feeling the elation I had hoped for, I feel nothing but tired. The tired that comes from realizing that all this time we have been telling you and you weren’t listening to anything but the sound of your own voice. That you were so convinced of your own morality and goodness that you made excuses for the inexcusable at the expense of people you knew personally. You rationalized murder, brutality, and racism for decades rather than simply say “there’s a problem here.”
You get it now. But instead of happy, all I feel is exhaustion. Because it shouldn’t have taken so many murders I cannot remember all the names. All the stories blend together into one repeating storyline that says even if we die, you’re willing to accept that as long as YOUR life, a life that always mattered, continues to take center stage. So I’m not going to thank you for realizing I’m a human. I’m not going to celebrate you seeing how terribly we have been treated.
I’m tired because you all were so convinced you were right that it took the entire country burning and protests around the globe for you to come to the same conclusions that we have spoon-fed you for years while you told us you couldn’t understand what we said. I’m tired because you’re on my feed, on my phone, and in my inbox incessantly expecting me to be excited that you’ve joined the fight I began in childhood. Expecting me to roll out the welcome mat. Expecting me to celebrate you for not believing me or anyone who looked like me in the first place.
Welcome to reality, folks. I hope you’re well-rested. You have work to do.
Until next time,
1 thought on “I Want To Be Happy, But All I Am Is Tired.”
OMG..how well you articulated the feelings I have been wrestling with for so many weeks.
As a black woman born in the 60s, I have seen so much. The word I connected with is EXHAUSTION. I feel so lack lustre about all that has gone on in the past few months. The “layover” of COVID, has given my ADHD brain the space to roam at will. Without the structure of the usual working mother negotiating work, in-house chauffeur duties, daughter to aging parents, mother to a precocious teenager, I’m just about all over the place. But most of all, I find that my emotions are not bound by the need to stifle them and “get a move on.”
I am angry that more black bodies must be sacrificed on the alter of proving white privilege “is a real thing”. I am angry that instead of basking in the relief of my short term memory, I must relive and repeat the atrocities meted out to my people to provide cogent examples so that non-marginalised and non-oppressed people (friends, acquaintances. co-workers, etc) will “get where I’m coming from.
I am angry each time I reiterate that if indeed, “ALL lives mattered”, a BLACK Lives Matter Movement, would not”.
I am angry every time I hear the media dissecting a black victim’s past, as if ANY action or activity mitigates their VIOLENT and untimely death. Even Tim McVeigh who bombed and murdered 100s of innocent victims including children, was afforded his right of to due process. He wasn’t pronounced dead at the scene/hospital. Who stormed into his home unannounced firing rounds and rounds of bullets? But I digress…
I am most angry that this has happened again and again.. but few care. Born in London, UK, I walked to school daily; twice a day I walked passed graffiti that said “N___ go home!”; for rent signs posted with “No Blacks, no dogs”. Little has changed…
The sum of micro-aggresions through every decade of my life to present day reflect the ambivalence of anti-Black racism, and oppression of people perceived as “Other”. Give us your labour; and when you’re done, F—O— out of here!!
Yep! Slavery is alive and well… a global phenomena…. upon which the top 5% rely to create more wealth they can NEVER spend in a lifetime. With all that anger piled up after years and years, no wonder we are tired, exhausted, burned out…
But my biggest concern is that after the optics have faded away – taking a knee; marching; streaming platforms with “in solidarity” categories in their collections, who will take on the REAL elephant of change – like opposing election fraud by white people trying to stay in power – governors, senators, county sheriffs, etc???
Damn, I deserve to be exhausted…….why??? CAUSE ALL MY LIFE I HAD TO FIGHT….and it ain’t done yet