I’ma talk to you plain – like I do with all folks at the end of a relationship. I feel things are betta that way—ain’t no misunderstandings or need for repeated – identical conversations. I don’t want no follow-up questions or bold declarations. It takes me a long time to get clear on things; but once I am—I am (firm as a pit bull 0n a pork shoulder).
I’m wit you; but I am not really fucking wit you. You need to know this cause you dealing wit me like you are expecting that old loyalty I had when we first hooked up—heartily singing love songs (anthems), blindly following your leader, sticking up for you when someone said a bad word against you, and so on. You seem actually offended, hurt-even, when I call you on your shit. Your boys unfairly kill one of my Brothas, try to silence one of my Sistas, create laws to restrict my fam from voting or running for office, make it impossible to get equal treatment in the justice system; but then you become highly indignant when I call you on your shit.
But that’s the thing you need to understand – I am going to call you on your shit.
I can respect why this change in my behavior would be shocking; I never used to say much of anything bad about you. I loved you. I thought you were part of me. It may sound corny, but my heart would swell when one of our songs would play, or one of our special days (such as July 4th) would come around. I believed in the dream you promised me; perhaps I was just too young to see the truths that were always there, or perhaps it was the grandness of you (no one brags about how great you are more than or better than you. We both must admit that your ego is huge). It could be that you were all I knew—you were my first (and we all know the impact of that!).
Or maybe I wanted so badly to believe in the stories that you told me and the promises that you made me. Sure, you had made some mistakes in the past, especially against my ancestors. And while you have never apologized, you seemed earnest in wanting us to forget about it and to move on from the past. But what I have learned is that for any relationship to work, the parties involved must take responsibility for their errors, talk about and through issues, deal with their wounds. But you weren’t having any of that: get over it, you would say. You actually convinced me that there was something wrong with me for continuing to be affected by your past, gross abuse of my people, my family. And honestly, due to the way you rewrote history, I became embarrassed of my victim–ness, instead of outraged at your cruelty. I allowed you to make me into the slave, instead of the enslaved. You just kept telling me that as long as I followed your rules, we’d be good. You seemed to know more about what was good and bad, so I tried to follow you.
Admittedly, we had some incredible times together. I would be become ecstatic at the times when I felt as if I was living up to your standards and would be one day be accepted by you fully: when I graduated from college, got my first promotion, and bought a house I felt as if we were becoming closer. You also romanced me. I most remember laying on blankets at parks as fireworks lit up the sky in celebration of us – our union. I had bought in to the dream—the American Dream.
But, I’m not so sure anymore. It’s become obvious that your dream never included me–at least not as an equal partner. The only real way the dream works is if I’m subordinate to you. Furthermore, I don’t trust you; I’ve watched the way you’ve treated my Brothas and Sistas. Even when they do everything right: shorten or change their given names to one that is more pleasing to you, speak withe the perfect dialect, change their hair structures to be more like yours, play sports and win games for your institutions, attend the schools that you’ve determined are the best—they still don’t get paid the same or get promoted. Even when they comply with a police officer, they get shot in the back; and then even when those murders are filmed, the officers suffer no punishment. And there are little things that matter in a relationship: you mimic our styles and looks, you screw us behind closed doors; yet you never tell us that we’re beautiful; every representation you post of beauty doesn’t look anything like us. Don’t you think I’m beautiful?
Our relationship is broken. I figure that you will say what all jerks say, “If I don’t like it, then I should just leave.” But you brought me here. And let’s be honest, you could not function without me. I made you and you need me to continue–perhaps that’s why you treat me so badly, maybe that’s why you are so threatened by me (deep down inside- you know that). Anyway, where could I go? Now, after I have given you my best years, my heart, a family—where can I go? I’m not in love with you—you killed that some time ago; so of course I won’t be laying under the sky watching fireworks to celebrate our anniversary (which—by the way—you got the date wrong). But, I will be here. I’ll be here trying to figure out how to make this loveless relationship work—trying to negotiate how I can stay with you and not damage myself.
My intention is for Black people to love themselves and each other. It sounds somewhat silly, I guess; but oftentimes my people are overwhelmed with negative images, bad news, and stereotyped characters about us. I’d like to flip that script. I’d like to remind us, as often as I can, how incredible we are. Read more