“I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People”
Jess Brooks
243

Race — ism?!?

Gosh — I like to read. I’d rather read than go to the movies or watch TV. But why…where is this anxiety coming from every time I am about to read a piece, a book, or whatever that deals with race, racism, discrimination and you name the theme that ties to the concept of racism?

Couldn’t we take a break from the topic of race? Could we designate a day of each week, a week of each month, or a month of each year that would exclude all talk and/or writing about race?

Isn’t it tiring to spill so much tears and ink and blood on race? Could I, should I stop reading all blogs treating the subject of race on medium? Honestly, folks, the issue of race is getting to my nerves, disturbing my inner peace, throbbing my heart with sheer palpitations. Every time I see the word in print I see a noose even though lunching no longer occurs the way it did in the old days; I still see a black body immured in solitary confinement; I further see the dark hole of a gun pointed at a black body; I can’t help myself from seeing black bodies dropping from the sky like pigeons being shot by a party of hunters; my heart sinks at the virtual sight of neatly attired public administrators (the types who are presently pressing Tim Cook to unlock the secrets of the iPhone) escorting a black body to seclusion, interrogation, repression…

Yeah — the word race has all these silent, yet violent impact on me, an innocent and “unarmed truth” telling black man, every time I come across it on screen or a page. Many a time I have skipped blogs and other well-crafted forms of written words laden with a fragrance — just a hint of the word racism. Wasn’t it with a welcome relief of sorts last week as I flew out of Washington for Europe? In cities like Brussels, it took me a moment to realize that something was missing; like I had forgotten some not-so-necessary item. Then it dawned on me that the anxiety of my black body had suddenly vanished.

That anxiety, the fear for my black body that usually stays with me in America like a sticky shadow, well it vanished in Brussels. In Dakar I caught myself looking above my shoulders to catch a glimpse of it but there was none. It felt strange to experience this relief from the anxiety of race as induced by the environment in which my life normally unfolds in America. Perhaps Tim Cook can empathize with my anxiety now as he fights to preserve the Justice Department from assaulting the integrity of the iPhone.