Many of you have read about what happened to my family a few weeks ago. In the culmination of weeks of escalating abuse from white supremacist trolls, our home was swatted, endangering my 17 year old son who was home alone at the time. In the weeks since the harassment of me and my family has continued fairly relentlessly, online and in person.
I’ve been told by advisors and law enforcement that it is in my best interest to stay quiet until this dies down. That it is best to pretend like none of this is happening so that I don’t give these terrorists “what they want” - which is to see a Black woman in pain and fear.
Here’s the thing about that.
I started writing as a Black woman in pain and fear. That is why I am where I am. If white supremacists want to get off on Black pain and fear, they need not do anything more than sit back and let our system work the way it has worked for hundreds of years.
I started writing because every single day I was living a half-life. I started writing because I was tired of taking in every racist joke, every insult, every assumption. I was tired of hearing the locks on people’s cars click down as I walked past theirs in a grocery store parking lot. I was tired of worrying about my brother’s safety when he went on tour. I was tired of worrying that I might die at each traffic stop. I was tired of seeing Black body after Black body lying in the street like so much garbage after an encounter with police.
And I was so very tired of being silent through it all. Silence was not helping me. It was killing me.
Before the events of these last few weeks happened, people still regularly asked me if I ever considered to give up my work in order to protect my safety and sanity as a Black woman.
My answer has always been the same: I would still be a Black woman in America — I just wouldn’t be able to speak openly about what I was enduring.
These last years, since I started writing — I’ve been as free as I can imagine a Black woman to be in this country. I have been able to speak openly, without reservation, about my lived experience and the experiences of my community. I have been able to look at white supremacy and call it what it is. I have not had to worry about losing my job; it is my job. I have not had to worry about losing friends (they left many essays ago). I have not had to bite my tongue in order to provide food for my family. I have not had to bend over backwards to prove that I am a “nice” negro in order to not end up in HR for my “attitude problem.” I know that if I encounter violence because of my race — while I will not be avenged the way that white people would be — I will be heard and believed in a way in which few people of color are.
And the price I have had to pay for that is that I get fairly regular death threats, occasionally my personal address and the addresses of my family members are posted online, occasionally my financial information is posted, and occasionally six rifle-carrying police officers will pull my son out of bed at 6am because someone pretending to be him called and said that he had murdered two people in my home.
If I let this work go in order to avoid paying that price, every other price of existing as a Black person in America still waits for me and my family. It does not go away. It does not make my sons more safe. It does not make me more safe.
There are different ways to kill a person. Not all of them make headlines.
In the midst of all of this, I have been surrounded by love. Deep love from my family, my Black community, my POC community, my queer community, my activist community. I have been held and renewed in the knowing Black love of my partner. I have been refocused in the light and hope of my two children.
I am not going anywhere. I’m not going to disappear. No matter what comes my way.
There are also different ways to live.
There is more to me than the terror that I’ve experienced these last weeks. There is more to me than the lifetime of trauma I’ve experienced. While I do not ever want to be reduced to that, I know that I cannot be a whole person in any space if I cannot bring that experience in with me. I know that I cannot heal if it cannot be known.
I do not believe that white supremacy will allow me to “take a break” and then get back to the fight for liberation when things calm down. I do not believe that white supremacy will settle for anything less than my silence. And while I do not know what the future will bring I do know that I will not go quietly.
Whether I am afraid or not is beyond the point. Yes I’m afraid. I’ve cried more these last few weeks than I have in years. I’m sure there is more to come in the future. But we are all afraid. And there are people who are facing the brutality of white supremacy to a degree that I have never known — and there are no news stories talking about them. And they fight still, with everything they have.
There is no beauty in this. There is no glory in this. This is shitty and disgusting and absurd and embarassing that in 2019 this is what our society is. People of color should not have to live in fear and pain. Highly-functioning-with-PTSD is not a cultural attribute of communities of color, it’s a fucking crime of an entire nation.
My fellow POC who are hurting and afraid: I hear you, I see you. You shouldn’t have to go through this, and you shouldn’t be the one tasked with fighting it. Thank you. Thank you for being here in a world that has tried so hard to tell you that you don’t belong. I love you.
To those who really, really want me to shut up: