This morning, I woke up late. Dragged myself to the bathroom and started my usual routine. When I pulled the curtain I recoiled in horror as a ginormous cockroach stared listlessly back at me.
In a hot second I was launching shoes into the tub, hoping one of them would crush it. We didn’t have any bug spray, so I had to kill it the old-fashioned way.
“You have to hit it,” Peaches said, “don’t just throw things at it, that won’t work.”
So I fetched the mop, it was as good a weapon for hitting as anything, and it smothered the roach’s body in no time. Screaming a ridiculous battle cry, I pounded it again and again,raising the stick up and down and hoping my blows were actually on target.
But every time I glimpsed the roach, it wiggled defiantly among the fat mess of tangles. This was a soft, slow death wasn’t it? A death of necessity, because it prevented me from bathing and making me super late for work.
I was too squeamish to crush it once, hard, feel it’s body explode under the weight of my force. Yet I was terrified and disgusted by it’s existence, so pounding it to death felt like a small victory I’d won in the name of survival.
The mop was soft, besides.
The night before I wrote this random true story of my encounter with a roach, I had my first face-to-face impassioned debate over race with a real live white man. He insisted that my article on The Alt-Right was much too direct, an attack on white people by virtue of me not specifying “some white people.” And when I asked why doesn’t he just filter what I say, realize that maybe I don’t literally mean ALL white people, he goes “I’m not gonna filter what black people say every time they speak!”
So in light of his suggestion to be more “subtle”, in order to get my message through to the tender heart of White America, I documented my interaction with that big old roach the next morning, and sent it to him in a text, no explanation. He didn’t get the analogy.
But I knew he wouldn’t.
“Think of all the Americans who have never seen a black person before, never gone to school with them, never had a conversation with them. They’re going to be afraid of what they don’t know. It’s fear, that’s all it is. How can you expect them to think about (racism) an issue that they never had to deal with before? They don’t think about race, because they’ve never had to.” – My White Male Friend.
That’s what kills us.
The police are afraid of unarmed black people in the same way that these “unexposed” whites are afraid of black people. The same “fear” that leads police officers to murder innocent people of color with impunity, is the same fear that makes so many White Americans justify these murders as deaths of necessity.
It’s like they think of us in the way that people think of roaches. A repulsive nuisance that gets in our way when we try to go about our business. But most of all, terrifying. Terrifying for what it can do to us.
So if it threatens our health, well-being, or existence in any way, we get rid of it. And we are well within our God-given right to do so.
People of Color are not Roaches. When we die due to the irrational, guilt-driven phobia of certain cowards in badges, it is not a death of necessity.
We do not need to be grateful to White Americans for freedom or perceived equality, just because we supposedly aren’t being lynched anymore. Back then, authorities like slave patrol officers used to hang unarmed black men without so much as a fair trial. Nowadays, police officers shoot unarmed black men without so much as a fair trial. The only thing that has changed about lynching is the method of execution.
And so, besides police brutality, many people of color also suffer from internalized inferiority, systemic discrimination, poverty, mass incarceration, and quite notably, the willful ignorance of the average White American whose inability to relate to “the black experience” renders them oblivious to their role in modern racism and how to combat it.
When black people are direct and confrontational with white people concerning racism, they get all fake teary-eyed and appalled and start asking if we want a race war.
When we are subtle and polite about it, it’s like talking to Trump’s stupid brick wall.
And when all the debating is over and they slip back into their comfortable nonchalance, nothing changes for us.
We are not roaches, we are not pests, we are not a threat to your lives and livelihoods. We are human beings, and we deserve to be here just as much as you do. Our lives matter, and we refuse to be exterminated like roaches. Police brutality and mass incarceration must end.
Author: Anastasia T
Editor-in-Chief, The Black Revolution Blog