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Anti-Blackness & White Racism as Silent Killers; Quotes by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World & Me)

The following quote was recently shared by a great friend, confidant, colleague and mentor; Rachelle Rogers-Ard. Upon deeply reflecting on its sentiments, I became disheartened and dismayed by the many Black and brown people of African descent who have spent their lives enduring struggles against systems and structures of White Racism and Anti-Blackness; which are the underpinnings of American socialization.

I, along with so many other astoundingly brilliant Black and brown people of African descent have spent (and continue spending) my life confronting and fighting Anti-Blackness and White Racism. It has added years to my life personally, and to the lives of many others I know. The reality is it weighs on our minds and emotions, distracting and deterring us from our brilliance. The reality of having to consider, grapple with and face relentless issues and situations lends itself to exhaustion and depletion. I often think about and consider how much more I could do or could have accomplished if I did not have to deal with the pressures and strains that are the results of systemic, institutional, structural and cultural White Racism and Anti-Blackness.

Every day is war, and we as Black and brown people of African descent are in combat. Whether we are justifying our presence in living quarters where we pay rent and/or mortgages, pushing past neighbors who follow-us inside our homes or call the police; attempting to meet business partners in coffee houses, yet subjected to arrest; attempting to get an education, yet scrutinized, surveilled and subjected to detainment due to others calling law enforcement; golfing with friends and being threatened, then bullied off the course; being overlooked for promotions due to not being seen as qualified, while watching others receive opportunities through favoritism and nepotism; being innocently gunned-down and killed by police (Charles Scott, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, Oscar Grant, Charleena Lyles, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Jordan Edwards, Botham Jean, etc.), charged and/or sentenced unjustly in comparison to similar or much harsher crimes committed by other races; or simply attempting to barbeque in a park. It is war.

Not only are the stories grueling, but the lived experiences are horrifying, traumatic. The stress it causes on our black bodies is tremendous; stains, scars and bruises on our minds, external and internal limbs, hearts and souls. Was it meant for us to spend our lives in such a nightmarish way; spending our time, breath, energies and effort fighting for respect, humanity and so-called equality? Absolutely not!

But, we must do it; because it is the position and state that the masses of Black and brown African-oriented people were forced into based systems of oppression that were meant to use black bodies as tools; then destroy them once their use was exhausted, and existence was of no worth or benefit. This can be observed in a myriad of ways throughout our history in this country; slavery, sharecropping, convict leasing, prison industrial complex - transforming into more modernized expressions slavery (i.e. entry-level and senior executive-level employment; in both public and private industry).

White Racism and Anti-Blackness are real; and have severely harmful, damaging and dangerous impacts. Only those of us who are saddled with bearing this burden can truly understand its effects. White Racism and Anti-Blackness are silent killers; and as we bear the burden alone we die, alone.

Thank you, Ta-Nehisi:

“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”

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