I got your Facebook message in my inbox when I woke up this morning. You must know how I lose attention with long messages because it was just one line: “We really wish you would post more pictures of Jack.” I don’t know who “we” represents, but I do know why you sent the messages don’t what you discussed in your clandestine “we” meeting, so here’s my response. I normally don’t do these things publicly, but I wanted you make sure that you and “we” could see it.
Yesterday, I made a few posts related to Terence Crutcher, a black man murdered by police in Tulsa. I know these posts prompted your message because you sent a similar message after I posted about Alton Sterling…or maybe it was Philando Castile…or Sandra Bland…or Tamir Rice…or Korryn Gaines…or…
The interesting thing is that I got your message at about 4AM. The thunderstorm woke me up and I started to think through my day. For the most part, today is a normal Wednesday, but I have to attend an event this evening that requires me to do some extra planning. Since moving to Madison, I’ve been using public transportation for work. Having come from two cities with horrible transportation infrastructure, I’m grateful for this opportunity. The bus that stops right at my house runs only during peak time; outside of that time, I have to walk about 1/4 mile. The event that I am attending ends after peak time and it’s starting to get dark a little earlier, so my question of the morning was if I should drive to work or take the bus.
Why this question? I assure you that it is not because I don’t want to talk the 1/4 mile between the bus stop and my house. The issue is whether a I should take my braided hair and black skin, put them in a car with Tennessee plates, and drive to campus or put them on a bus and walk through my neighborhood at dusk in a city where I don’t yet fully understand the local rules of race. Do I risk being pulled over by an officer who may or may not be “nice” for a reason that may or may not be true, or do I walk through my very white neighborhood and risk running into someone who may not feel so “neighborly?” Whatever my decision, I had to be sure to let my mom (who lives in Pennsylvania) know…just in case.
Why this story? Because while you were rolling your eyes at a Facebook post, I was engaging in extreme mental gymnastics over what should be a very simple decision. The thing is, black people in this country do these gymnastics every moment of every day. It’s our way of surviving and the cognitive demand is insane. I would prefer to think about cats, too, but I don’t have that luxury.
I realize that you probably aren’t reading this. You either know me well enough to know that the title was about cats, but the post would go another direction. Or you saw the direction and stopped reading. On the off chance that you’re still with me, here’s my message…those posts that prompt you to roll your eyes and scroll quickly by are statements of mourning, fatigue, and trauma. Not only do I mourn another life taken at the hands of a police state, but I mourn my own freedom and that of the people I love. Do I feel unsafe? Yes. Do I walk in fear? No. I would say that I’m sorry if any of this annoys you, but I’m not. I’ve tried to be patient and understanding with both you and “we,” but at this point, your ignorance is willful and I have neither patience nor sympathy for that. Feel free to hit “Unfriend” because I won’t stop.
I was going to end this post with a picture of Jack, but he denies your request.