To Uncle Ruckus: What it is to be Black

“To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” – James Baldwin.

Baldwin explains the black experience with this simple quote. With the recent passing of Nipsey Hustle, our government’s (Democrats included) unfair treatment of Ilhan Omar, the Gentrification in D.C and everywhere else where black people reside, the police brutality and lack of justice, the presidency of Donald Trump and the fuckery that it is, the attitudes regarding black people, and the trauma of dealing with all that comes with being black, how can this quote not explain the black experience?

I do get angry reading about all this. Seeing it played out on the news and social media doesn’t help either. It’s even worse when I witness and experience said racism. So don’t be outraged by my calmness. It’s not a weakness that should be exploited. I’m not an argumentative person. Confrontation only works when there’s a reason behind it. It should take more than a petty jab to make one bleed.

You hate who are just like you. Was it past trauma? Did someone shame you into shaming your own kin? Your skin isn’t a weakness no more than the ancestors. What’s weak is only your pride. You think the same system that called you inferior can strengthen you. The thing is, you’re right. You can be strengthened once you know that the system is against you. By knowing that, you’ll be better prepared to combat it.

You say, we hate each other. To some extent, I have to agree. We do have to do better. That way, we can actually be. We’re at each other’s throats so much that we’re silencing our own voices. However, I don’t blame us for being this way and neither should you. We should and must come to an understanding. Know that we’re stronger together. Be each other’s shield and sword instead of each other’s war zone. That’s why, I won’t fight you.

Being nonchalant isn’t the same as being careless. If you feel otherwise, don’t. Rest assured, I do have feelings that I actually do feel. Just because I show no emotion (to you) doesn’t mean that I don’t have any. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that I neglect my feelings altogether. By definition, what being nonchalant means is being untroubled.

So why do you believe I’m a robot? My skin isn’t made of metal. I don’t have to move my arm to know that it’s there. If you hit me, I’ll feel that. When I speak, that isn’t my voice being programed by a computer. I wasn’t born with a instruction manual. If I was, don’t you think I’d put it to use? That way, I’d be better than what I am now.

Only believe of me what I tell you. I’m, in fact, human in flesh and bone. Just because I don’t act as you doesn’t make what I’m saying less true. We live in a world of cause and effect. A chain reaction of provoked action. When something happens, we demand a response to it. It’s what we’re taught as children, if someone hits you then you hit them back.

Fighting back makes so much sense when we’re young. Who’d ever want to be a target? We didn’t see how anger was a disease then. We thought if we gave it to someone else that we’d be free of its illness. A plague doesn’t work that way. Infecting someone else should’ve never been viewed a cure. Now, our anger has become an epidemic that’s destroying each other.

What was once a scrap at the playground has turned into battlefields on our land. Don’t you see how war has evolved? It’s biological. As children, the world was a quarantine. We were supposed to be protected. Safety was a home that was promised to us. A promise that cracked until it finally shattered at our feet.

We were being groomed for war. Schools taught us how to be violent. The government tells us how much a life is worth only after its taken. It’s like they say, everything comes at a cost. Have you ever been taught how to invest in yourself? It’s not just the Devil that puts a price on one’s soul.

Greed is truly the root of all evil. We want what we want. All that we have means nothing when we can have more. Who cares what’s taken? We bargain our lives away in hopes to get what we work for. We’re told that if we own something that it’s ours. We damn near kill ourselves to live the life we feel we deserve. How do you see nothing wrong with this?

We’re sold a dream just to be in debt. Our hard work receives no profit or benefits. War, bad for the people, but good for business. To live is expensive but death puts money in another man’s pocket. Capitalism works to exploit people. Poverty exists so wealth can be attainable. We’re slaves to the same system you want to value us. How do you see nothing wrong with this?

I’m nonchalant not because I’m unbothered. In fact, I’m stressed out. I care about the world, the future, and even you. Just because I don’t react doesn’t mean I’m doing nothing. What I’m doing is taking inventory, understanding my surroundings, and being aware. I learn a fighting method to know the best course of action to defend myself and even counter against it. By knowing the symptoms, I can avoid getting sick and even cure the virus from spreading further.

My war is internal. You cannot hurt what I’ve already scarred. To be black and conscience is to be in pain all the time. It’s trying to combat a system that has all the weapons. It’s to live life as a target. It’s to be war ready. It’s to know that the only weapon I have is knowing my enemy isn’t you. So call me weak if you want. I know it’s not your fault that you think this way. Anger is prone to make you lash out, as well as fear.

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