The only other black guy on my partner’s job was fired last week. The company HQ is in Dallas so we are both on high alert for his job security.
That means that he refuses to take a vacation out of fear they will replace him with his replacement–just because “casually” racist high-powered corporate attorneys are irrationally uncomfortable with his dark skin, broad nose and full lips.
In our 3+ years together, the only vacation I’ve known my partner to take was our road trip to relocate my vehicle from Texas to Brooklyn. It was the same summer Sandra Bland was murdered. And he came along only because he was in-between jobs after being unceremoniously fired from another law firm–also based in Dallas. And his family harassed him for daring to enjoy himself.
Some would say I’m making hyperbole or being paranoid. Or, of course, wholesale dismiss me as an “angry black woman.” But I’d be a fool to ignore the sum knowledge acquired from suffering overtly racist teachers, employers and colleagues throughout my soon-to-be 43 years of life experience (20 years of them were in the belly of the Lone Star State).
I see the nothing but love and kindness in the faces of Philando Castile, in Alton Sterling, in Kalief Browder. In the kid named Thug down the street who helped me shovel my car out the snow one time. I see as much compassion and intelligence as I do weariness in my formerly convicted nephew who has proudly parented four children (of whom only one he biologically fathered). I see the same kindness in the faces of Norman and Kenny and Donald — some of the men in my neighborhood who ask for change and food at corporate coffeeshop outside my train station whom few people bother to see as men or learn their names. They are all someone’s son, brother, and maybe father, too.
And I also see the hatred and violence on the faces of overtly proud white men who boo us in Trump caps and disappear (probably to get their guns) when we confront them with the First Amendment. I see them with their dicks hardened by the violent spirits they project upon us and use to allegedly justify the violence against us.
I know that even among “friends” I am unsafe. Hence the screeching silence around the latest non-conviction which upholds that murder is a perfectly reasonable and acceptable response to the sight of abundantly melanated skin, noses designed for tropical air, and lips full enough to kiss the soul.
My partner really wants to be a father.
It’s not the fear of what it’ll do to my body but the fear of mothering A BLACK CHILD in a world that vehemently denies our right to exist with dignity that frightens me away from inviting conception.
This is our last full weekend together before I leave on the 3rd and pretend as best I can that I’m free from racist Americans for 7 weeks. My mom doesn’t understand that I’ll feel safer in Rwanda and Kenya and even in the indigenous land of my family’s enslavers than my country of origin.
At brunch on Father’s Day we were seated next to a Black man sitting with his arm around his 7-year-old son. My partner beams, smiles, makes eyes in their direction. Yeah, I got the hint, Darling…
The mother comes along shortly and we spent less time chewing and more time enjoying their stories about family, parenthood, and the consistently beautiful surprises from the precocious old soul they were given to love and raise. I mean, the kid loves JAZZ! And we had JUST laid in bed watching the old School House Rock “3 Is a Magic Number” and I always lose my shit when they sing “… there were threeeee… in their family…”
And when we left brunch the rain had stopped but my face was a monsoon. I know that something as simple as being a father when you’re Black in this country is not necessarily a beautiful thing.
I’m tired of the state-sanctioned public lynchings, y’all. I have anxiety on a scale I’ve never experienced, and I struggle to succumb to destructive self-sedation just to keep my heart from repeatedly and unexpectedly skipping a beat EVERY DAY. My adrenals are worn out. My mitochondrial DNA is exhausted. I even wonder if I’d have been the kind of mother who kills her own child before seeing them sold off or raped or brutalized.
Spending two weeks in Rwanda this summer is no vacation. I am hyper-aware that the Rwandan genocide has roots in the Belgian colonial legacy of ranking people by phenotypes and placing features associated with “whiteness” atop the hegemony of people who once co-existed in peace before Europeans came through with that white supremacist bullshit.
Look up that asswipe King Leopold II. We are nothing but “beasts of burden with monkey legs” to him and the imperialist community.
Look up the history of the song “Amazing Grace” — the author worked on slave ships and participated in making sure that none of the girls or women aboard were virgins when they arrived.
Dear NON-BLACK people who like to use the word “WOKE” — I challenge YOU to not just bear the burden of the names we carry–but to bear the full stories behind the names. I dare every single one of you to take some of this burden off the backs of your Black co-horts and really try it on for size for a week or so and engage in some real conversations with OTHER non-Black people to decide what YOU with all the power of whiteness vested within y’all are gonna do collectively to fix this shit.
It means NOT coming to whichever Black person is in closest proximity of your lives for emotional labor and counseling–but INSTEAD to do your own work as not just an “ally” but as an actual accomplice. You are several generations behind in your mitochondrial DNA to begin unpacking that whiteness = anti-blackness, and that whiteness is ruining our collective hu[wo]mXnity.
I miss my DADDY. He spent 20+ years as a combat medic fighting for “freedom” — which is apparently this country’s right to lynch ANY of us at ANY time. He enlisted only because he tried for an apprenticeship but the racist unions in Detroit had completely shut him out.
Patriotic, isn’t it?
Happy BLACK Father’s Day.