Danielle Belton of The Black Snob has something to say about Trayvon Martin’s murder. It is perhaps the most astute observation on bigotry that I’ve read through this whole thing.
Don’t apologize — Because it doesn’t matter.
In St. Louis, my hometown, folks in the county would say, it wasn’t that they didn’t like black people it was the “quality” of the black people. Why? If it were Cosby-esque doctors and lawyers moving in next door in the suburbs they’d feel just fine.
Then, when my family and tons of other black professional families moved to the ‘burbs, they fled to O’Fallon and St. Charles anyway.
But you said doctors and lawyers were “OK?” I guess bigots lie. It wasn’t really about the “right” kind of black people. Ha ha. You were “good” too, weren’t you? Cute. Didn’t mean anything. Didn’t mean a damn thing.
My favorite book, Invisible Man, tells of Anonymous and there is a letter in that story that haunts me as it haunted the unnamed narrator that says “keep this nigger boy running.”
And that’s what they do to us. They keep us running. They keep telling us it is us. That if we just made ourselves a little different, it would all go away. If we’re just good.
“Be good” is one of those burdens that only ever belongs to the minority. Not that it does the minority a bit of good, at least not on its own. What does do good is political power, the power to protect one’s rights and interests, and “being good” is the antithesis of exercising political power.
“Being good” is giving up what power you have so it doesn’t, can’t possibly, scare the people who feel they have the right to run–or destroy–your lives. Of course, when you give up that power, they run/destroy your lives anyway. And if you dare to challenge them in any little way, you’ve “earned” everything they do to you.
So what do you do instead? Belton’s got an answer for that. It’s not perfect. It’s risky, in fact. It could even get you killed. But when was the last time someone promised you that “being good” could keep you from getting killed. Even more important: Do you still believe them?