Written by Alisha Acquaye
I've noticed a pattern when it comes to police brutality. It's always the same formula: a black person who is aimlessly walking down the street with a friend, or playing with toy guns with a group of kids, or driving a car - simply, living - somehow agitates a white police officer nearby. This white officer feels threatened by the black person’s existence. They decide to take matters into their own hands. They grab their piece, they pull that trigger, and just like that, a black life is cut short, silenced by the piercing pop of a gunshot.
When these white men go on trial for the wrongs they’ve done, they say the same shit. They were conducting their rightful duty. They were eliminating a threat. They felt helpless against the black person, they were protecting themselves in a heated moment. They made the world a better place, by getting rid of one more menace to society. They were afraid.
"We swallow their racist beliefs and turn it into blossoming flowers of prosperity. " - Alisha Acquaye
What does fear mean, when the thing you fear is laying on the ground beneath your feet, desperately waiting for it all to end? What does fear mean, when you’ve got the terrifying force in a chokehold, and you squeeze until he can’t breathe? What does fear mean, when you confuse a beautiful 12 year old boy for a 20 year old man, just so you can justify ending his youth? What does fear mean, when something as miniscule as CDs are considered sharp weapons? What does fear mean, when a black woman’s mouth is more harmful than the arms you carry?
They say they fear us. That is why they kill us. This racist notion is the reason white supremacy has justified all that it does against people of color. We are put down in every way imaginable - from our hair texture to body shape to intelligence, housing and job opportunities to representation in media - because they don’t understand us, they hate us. We are being executed, one by one, because they are afraid of us. We are more scary in our natural, unapologetic, unarmed state, than white officers who carry guns, batons, tear gas and riot gear. How is that possible?
"What does fear mean, when you confuse a beautiful 12 year old boy for a 20 year old man, just so you can justify ending his youth? "- Alisha Acquaye
It stems from the age old myth - incepted by white supremacy - that somehow, we are less than human. We have this intrinsic, barbaric nature that grants us superhuman like powers that needs to be tamed. We are stupid, we are strong with our bare hands, we are out of control. Control the beast, they say. Put them down. End their race.
Whether they kill us through cultural consumption and appropriation, make us invisible by erasing us in media and social spaces, or literally murder our brothers and sisters, they find justification throughout it all. Why? Because to them, black is bad. And with every life they take, with every piece of our culture they transform for themselves, they feel stronger, more valid, more alive. They eat us and kill us. We die and they prosper.
But I do think they should be afraid of us. Yet, not for the reasons they believe. We are intelligent - black women are the largest rising group of entrepreneurs, says Forbes - we are creative and strong, we raise our voices through art and writing and social media - Blood Orange, Ta Nehesi Coates, every black blogger and vlogger who refuses to log off while the world is continuing to spin out of control. We have power. We protest. We grow stronger together when we feel the weight of our fallen brothers and sisters. We speak up about it. We swallow their racist beliefs and turn it into blossoming flowers of prosperity. We continue to stand up against white supremacy every time one of us is killed.
We love our skin; “melanin on fleek” is our new “black is beautiful.” We love our hair - never have I seen so many textures and shapes and styles of black hair all at once in my life's time. We support each other's ideas, we share each other’s stories, we propel each other to follow our dreams. We are traveling the world more now than ever before. We are taking back what is our’s. We want to make a difference in the world. And we will not be silenced - but even our silence is loud.
We are a force to be reckoned with - beware. We won’t be terminated. They should be afraid.