Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Devils You Know

Wow. I've been gone so long blogspot has a completely new interface!  I think I like it.  I'm one of those people who can't stand a crappy interface and will actually stare for hours at the blank compose field because the interface is so distracting. Maybe this will finally make me post more. I'm not going to hold my breath tho.

I've been in a bad head space the last couple of months.  What seems like a rash of attacks on black people's right to defend ourselves or even exist has had me extra paranoid and triggery.  (And I had been doing so well on the trigger front :/ ).    I've taken to heart the Trayvon Martin shooting, Marissa Alexander getting 20 years for firing a warning shot deliberately away from her attacking husband, Cece McDonald being strongarmed into a plea deal for a nakedly obvious case of self-defense, Policeman Howard Morgan being sentenced to 40 years for attempted murder after being shot 28 times by four fellow officers (all white) under extremely suspiciously self defending sounding circumstances, and most recently a 75 year old White Man shoots dead a 13 year old black boy in front of his mother....  All of these attacks on black and brown citizenship keep happening in rapid succession and seem to be escalating in levels of sheer brazenness over the last year -  and there are so many more examples that have happened which I haven't mentioned.  But the message is loud and clear:  1) White people have the right to do whatever they wish to black people.  2) Black people have NO right to defend ourselves.  3) If you're black and you DO defend yourself, expect either to die or else go to prison for your trouble.

In short, I'm starting to panic.  Ending up in a situation where I'm forced to defend myself and then subsequently forced to enter the U.S. Judicial System is one of my greatest personal fears, if not THE greatest.  From my own family history dealings with police and the court system, I have zero faith in being treated as anything other than just another black criminal in a court of law, much less being respected as a woman. I have never been arrested; when my only income was sex work I was maniacal in my client screening process, not just screening for psychopaths and sociopaths for personal safety reasons, but also weeding out any potential police officers or vigilante troublemakers who might bring the police to my door. (Even so it only took one game-changing lapse in judgment to nearly end my life).  Today I live a deliberately low profile, painstakingly law-abiding lifestyle. I have very few friends, also law-abiding, whom I hardly ever see because I just don't like to go out anymore, as it's like asking for trouble somehow. In short, I do everything I can to improve my chances against accidentally ending up in some silly public or private situation that gets me rounded up by the police.

But lately that doesn't seem to matter. The general tone of discourse in this country (the U.S.) concerning any minority rights or experiences is becoming ever more belligerent.  For the first time in my life White People in general are actively starting to scare me.  Not just the always vocal extremist conservatives who demand to take back their country.  But also the ever wishy-washy white middle class liberals who don't seem to be rising to the anti-racist occasion.  On one side I see a people quite literally amassing an army. On the other I see a bunch of cultural critics rolling their eyes and clucking their tongues while they busy themselves with their Occupy Insert-City-Here Movements and their professional outrage online commentary.  I feel I am being literally and politically targeted.  I do NOT feel like I can count on anyone to defend me but me. And to add insult to injury, even if I do have to defend me, I'm almost certain to be punished for it.

Matt Kailey's latest post touched a nerve with me, so much so that I blurted out in comments some really personal and painful details about my multiple experiences with being raped and physically attacked but not reporting the incidents to the police for fear of making my life even more unliveable.  I regret the hurried tone and the overshare.  I hate sounding desperate and angry, especially about things that happened so long ago.  It makes me sound like I'm still broken after all this time.  And of course, I am. But worse it makes me sound like I'm trying to win some sort of victim trophy, and all that does is make people tune you out even more.  I hate using my own life as an anecdote because people always say that anecdotes are not proof of any "argument," because every conversation about current events in white american mainstream culture is a fucking debate.  And pointless as they refuse to take your story in context anyway, because everything in white american mainstream culture is a fucking isolated incident.  But if I don't tell my story then I feel silent, erased, and even more vulnerable for the next time.  And in my silence people unlike me start to theorize that people like me are merely... theoretical.  So I blurt it all out, on their terms, wanting them to SEE to KNOW this is what happens this is what we've been talking about, THIS is why we ask for what we ask for and ... nothin.   I invariably walk away feeling embarrassed for having said anything. Like I'd just let out a loud belch at a dinner party and  nowI'm sitting there hoping that the room is well mannered enough to  change the subject instead of simply staring at me in all this awkward silence.  I imagine I hear them thinking: Who is this creature? How did she even get in here? When is she leaving? Please leave.

Oh if only I had that option. If only I could leave and know I'd be any safer.

The devils you know.


  1. I've had this post up for a couple days because I've wanted to leave a comment, but I keep getting stuck at how inadequate anything I can say would be.

    Ultimately, I don't want there to be "nothing" in response to the weight of your words. I am bearing witness, and I acknowledge the truth in what you say.

    1. Hey. I'm glad to see you writing again. I never took you out of my list of blogs that I read and occasionally I would stop by to see some or your older posts. Child, we need to talk. It's been a long time.

      I feel that same sense of panic. And I have said the same thing to myself, but it's not something I've wanted to say out loud. It takes you to be brave enough to do that, but you're right. Whether it's Creflo Dollar getting arrested over his dollar or white people gunning down our children in cold blood, black people are being reminded in the starkest deadliest terms possible. Stay in your place or white people will kill you. If you're lucky, you'll get jail.

      You are so right. And we have to fight and make white people realize that it's their fight too. That's the hardest thing for them to understand. They think they are safe and they are not.

    2. Good to hear from you again!

      I know what you mean about white people believing they're safe and ignoring the obvious signs. I don't know that it's possible to convince them otherwise. I don't know that it's possible to convince anybody who consciously identifies themselves as white, or believes that race is simply a physiological or social "fact" and hasn't committed to anti-racism. This cycle of mounting aggression seems to be a script that White culture plays out over and over again. They haven't had a good old fashioned race riot in a long time... they're overdue and will not be denied. :/