Friday, July 15, 2016

Hell Week

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, July 6, to reach for my Nebulizer, asthma flare ups and the stifling summer of St. Louis were threathening my slumber. While pulling in the mist into squeezed tight lungs, I turned on my computer to do some mindless three-o-clock in the morning browsing. The book that was sitting on my bed was begging to be read, but I ignored her, as I ignored the pull to watch another episode of my "Mindy Project" marathon.

Wishing what I was seeing was not true, I read with horror that yet another unarmed black man was killed while black by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This one triggered me in ways that I can only trace back to Michael Brown's murder in August 2014. Perhaps it was that the man was selling CDs, something that my self-made lyrical rapper son does all the time, or the fact that it was outside  store, triggering memories of Staten Island and "loosies" causing NegroEric Garner to endure the ultimate assault by police, his death. In each each case since Trayvon, there was this trigger that brought us to our collective anger, us black folks, that is.

When I was still processing this event and scrolling through posts and popping over to twitter, I could not stop thinking of this man and my son's intertwined possibility. Being entrepreneurial, not asking for a hand-out, selling a product, both with permission of the store owners. My son's CDs were in the store precisely because of his "hustle" to get that coveted brand recognition.  

Something unsettled my spirit.

I was still on a bit of my personal boycott of Independence Day. It was just a few days after the nation celebrated their liberty, a day after my Hurston & Hughes Literary Circle discussed Chains and listened to my youngest son read Frederick Douglass' speech, What to the Negro is Your Fourth of July. It was after all of this that Mr. Alton Sterling's unnecessary death assaulted my emotions.

The next day, Thursday, July 7, began almost as a deja vu. Once again, the stuffy stifling summer woke me up to catch some necessary inhaled treatent and once again, I turned on my computer only to learn that while I was sleeping, another black man's life was cut short through the so-called white fear that police officers carry in their soul against black men. This was even worse than Alton Sterling, in that it happened in front of his fiancée, who was driving, but in front of his four-year-old daughter. This was a violation of black womanhood. It was doubly triggering.

I was angry, hurt, disappointed in the overt silence of white "friends" who populated my page and were often (some, not all - see that qualifier here) crying out for comfort and understanding. Their absence was consent. The murder of a man who was beloved by the elementary school where he worked, who properly notified the officer, who had no reason to stop them, that he had a concealed weapon with a permit (legal in Minnesota), triggered the tsunami of spent -up black fears, tears, and exhaustion The wave of two murders in two days, not to mention the black men lynched in New Orleans and Atlanta, the black woman killed by police in Arizona, was just all too much.

People took to the streets across the country and learning from what they learned in Ferguson, some started tactical actions designed to disrupt and make white America pay attention. All of this is against the backdrop of a racially charged candidate intent on inciting violence, a continuingly disgruntled white America who has been wanting "something to happen" under President Obama's time in office, and the reality that black lives still don't matter.  It was too much.

I logged out of Facebook on my phone (still can't get my app back up and can't live post right now) and my computer. I ignored twitter, and hugged my children close. We had clear and definite conversations about what was happening and then, Dallas and Ballwin.

Friday and Monday were like days of hell.

Dallas police officers, at a peaceful rally for Black Lives in light of the two murders of black men, were met with a militarily trained sniper who caused the untimely death of five officers and injured two.

This shifted the thoughts and emotions of white people, they didn't have to care about black people anymore, after all, Blue Lives had to matter more, right?

Just when I thought the collective I, we, us, that is black couldn't take any more of the deaths, funerals, protests, speaking up and out, being disappointed by the silence of our so-called white American friends, it happened again, and again, and again.

And as storms raged through St Louis, downing trees and knocking out power lines, even this writer's Internet access was spotty for two days, storms have been raging across the Ocean.

When I was able to log back on, expecting news of another Bastille Day celebration, I found news of heartbreak and death instead. The truck plowing down almost 80 people who were jubilient over a people's revolution that sparked change in France, reminded me that not everyone is happy with smiling faces, loving families, and joyous lives.  Evil disrupted lives again.

We have to live.

Keep Living.

Keep Loving.

Keep Laughing.

See, that is the thing that terrorists - those of the kind like the idiot white couple who epitomizes poor white trash yelling at a black woman in a restaurant that they would have owned her A&& or the unknown person who used a truck to turn the light out of children's eyes - they want us to be afraid, to close up, to stop smiling to not live anymore, then they win.

It may have been one hell of a week, but I refuse to stop. Go live that dash, that is our triumph.
Tayé Foster Bradshaw* lives and writes in a suburban St. Louis townhouse with great views of trees to inspire living and latte sipping. Find her on twitter @lattegriot 

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