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Societal The Word 3 minute read

I Can’t Be Them

I walked through the airport, dragging my black duffel carry-on, scanning for anyplace that sold coffee.  I, who don’t drink coffee normally, was desperate for anything that would wake me up, as I was exhausted.  It’s typical for me to be exhausted when I’m leaving D.C. (my former home).  It’s the consequence of talks with girlfriends and wine that go into the wee hours of the morning.  So I was tired, but I was also stressed, though I was at the airport early.  I was flying the day after the riots in Charlottesville; and it reminded me of when I flew the day after 9-11.  I was on alert—I wish a motherfucker would type of alert.

I looked at every White male, who was between 20-40, suspiciously.  Are you flying home from the rally?  Do you hate me?  Are you racist?  Are you a terrorist?  I was angry.  You don’t want none of dis.

I was irritated at every White person who got near me: the man in front of me in security who failed to take his keys out of his pocket; the woman in the coffee line who talked too loudly to her husband about whether he wanted a blueberry or a chocolate chip muffin; the young millennial whose music played so loudly from his earphones that I could hear it.  Images of Trump speaking and blaming “both sides” for for the violence, the deaths; the car ramming into the innocent anti-protesters; the faces of the Charlottesville White Supremacists that seemed to have sweat coming from the pores of their skin — the type of sweat that comes from the heat from hell.

But it was those very images that gave me pause: I can’t be them.

I can’t carry the burden of hate.

I already carry the burdens of being Black in America: systematic racism; daily micro-aggressions, fewer opportunities and less pay for equal work; the stress of raising two boys in a world with overly aggressive cops who are under penalized.  I will carry no more.  Don’t misunderstand me: I despise the White Nationalists, our President that has emboldened these racists to boldly march through our streets and then failed to decry their actions.  Understand me: I will continue to fight passionately for equal rights for my people; but I will do it from a place of love (I love us, Black people)–not from a place of hate.

But I can’t hate an entire race of people.  If so, I become them.  I will remember that the majority of the counter protesters — the ones who woke up that morning, got dressed, and headed out knowing who they were going to encounter to fight against racism and hate — were White.  Heather Heyer, a White woman, lost her life fighting for equality and against hate.

Have many Black people lost their lives in a battle for equal rights for our people? Yes.  So many have, too many to count.  But the loss of their lives doesn’t discount that Heather lost hers.  And I need to remember that — for me — because I can’t be them.

 

“I’m going to stick with love. Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

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