on being black in america in 2014
i am consumed, struggling to find my way out. i am consumed, inundated with stories of brutality and injustice flung in my face, many i seek out. i am consumed with hearing stories that make me angry, sad, stories that are traumatizing. i am consumed with solving it, figuring out my role, looking for a new home, another new country to live in.
i am surrounded by whiteness, existing in mostly white spaces because my income and education place me in there. i made the decision to live in my neighborhood, to live close to restaurants and bars, a decision that makes me a minority in my neighborhood, save for the homeless and poor that are around during the day, some sleeping beneath store awnings at night. i am surrounded by whiteness walking down the street, save for the black man who asked me for money after hugging me and offering a “happy sunday.” i am surrounded by whiteness in restaurants, on planes, in airport lounges, in class, at work, on the beach, in the store, at the bar. i am surrounded by whiteness in america because of the strange intersection of race and class.
i am marginalized. i rarely find myself on television, virtually invisible from magazines, unless they are black magazines, invisible in books, unless they are in the african-american book sections, or found as a supporting character for the white protagonist. i am marginalized in american history books, a blip on the metaphorical radar. i am invisible in advertisements, save for companies ‘urban’ outreach attempts.
i am othered, stripped of humanity, unworthy of empathy. i am a thug, and must stop resisting arrest. i fit the description, sometimes violent, sometimes hypersexual. i am inarticulate, having not mastered the master’s language.
my conversations are consumed by talk of racism, survival and an inability to ignore my reality and the reality of those that look like me. my conversations are laced with frustration, despair and sometimes a feeling of hopelessness.
i cannot go back to business as usual when what feels like 1950s america is 2014 america. i put these pictures in black and white because my life is in black and white, these times feel very black and white. i put these pictures in black and white because i want them to feel like theyare not from today. i want to trick my mind into believing that i wasn’t there on saturday, at a march, for my civil rights but rather time traveled in my dreams.
i am consumed, surrounded, marginalized. i am black in america.