Black people have been grieving the loss of our ancestors and freedom for a long time. From the first time an imperialist stepped foot on the continent of Africa, to the violent removal from our native lands, to the demonization of traditional spiritual practices, to the rebranding of slavery into mass incarceration, to the willfull ignorance of the European American majority, to the very stress of racism lowering the life expectancy of Black women. Being forced to continuously bear witness to the murder of your people by police officers and white supremacists on every news outlet and social media site is incredibly draining. On top of that, we are expected to be “professional,” to keep our heads down, to do our work—don’t be too loud, don’t say it like that—to be silent. In the words of Fannie Barrier Williams, “are we not justified in a feeling of desperation against that peculiar form of Americanism that shows respect for our women as servants and contempt for them when they become women of culture?”
The silencing of Black women’s voices is what has gotten us to a point close to another civil war. We know that history repeats itself, often because of revisionist ideologies and the spread of misinformation. Although Black feminist thought has been providing us with the framework for a fully liberated society for centuries now, European Americans and others who have won the game that is Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism refuse to acknowledge the very real damage being done to our environments and psyche.
This refusal goes beyond the GOP and their far-right followers’ commitment to domestic terrorism; it extends to a Democratic party that relies on bootstrap policies and swift inaction in the name of “upholding civility and bureaucracy.” To this I say: no. No more relying on the emotional labor of Black women and queer Black people who have given all the knowledge and progressive politics they could to a country that can’t even acknowledge that our history with slavery and its aftereffects are more recent than you think.
I recently watched the seventh episode of Lovecraft Country, a show where a character named after Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, steps into a multiverse portal and goes on a journey of self-realization. This need for Hippolyta to physically leave the United States and her own reality in order to figure out who she is and who she’s meant to be brought tears to my eyes. She proclaims that “all those years I thought I had everything I ever wanted, only to come [to Paris], and discover all I ever was, was the exact kind of Negro woman white folks wanted me to be. I feel like they just found a smart way to lynch me without me noticing the noose.” I often feel like I am being crushed by calls to get over it, and when I speak out about what I can so clearly see happening around me, certain alumni act like they can’t understand what I’m talking about because their Econ major background hasn’t failed them yet.
It has been so exhausting trying to be the perfect Black woman who is calm in the face of violence but approachable, kind, warm and welcoming in the face of whiteness. Whiteness doesn’t care how many degrees I have. Whiteness doesn’t care how much wealth I have. Whiteness doesn’t care how many SAT words I fit in a paragraph. And it damn sure doesn’t care who I vote for. We are living in a failed state, and if you can’t see what I see, just take a look at the relief bill. Oh right, you can’t, because there’s been no plans put into place since last spring’s CARES Act.
At the end of the day, neither of the major parties are of use to the laboring class, nor will they ever be. At least a Republican will tell me he thinks I’m a “f*cking b*tch” to my face; the Democratic Party simply sits there as our rights are taken away, shrugging because the proper paperwork wasn’t filed as families starve in the streets. Explain to me what is so great about that. Tell me what is so great about this “American standard” that works for very few and protects even fewer. Stop telling people who have been disappointed time and time again by this failure of a country that they should vote so we can get a different white abuser in power. Because at the end of the day, the people in Washington are going to do whatever keeps their pockets full, even though they know that the death of the laboring class from overproduction will kill them, too. On November 3, hold your community close and your peace even closer, because no matter who wins, we are all in for the biggest loss of our lifetime.