Anger is an appropriate reaction to racist attitudes, as is fury when the actions arising from those attitudes do not change.
In a class on Communications, Sut Jhally makes the statement that what is not said in the media is often as important as what is said, if not more important. Over the course of my writing here on Asylum, I have noted cases and instances of grave injustices and violence whose victims are American Black Women. I am often more than not left a bit disillusioned with my efforts due to the extreme lack of media coverage and public outcry when American Black Women and girls are the casualties of oppression.
While she slept, some time after midnight on May 16, 2010, Aiyana Stanley-Jones’ 7-year young head was ruptured by the bullet of Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team. Aiyana would end her life’s story that night, while Weekley would have charges dropped from involuntary manslaughter to careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor which would eventually be totally dismissed in 2015.
Much of the public outcry in this case is fairly recent with the story of Aiyana being embraced by members of particular identity politics as a means to address the fervor that occurs when Black males die. It should also be noted that Aiyana was honored in video by rap artist, J. Cole.
On August 13, 2010, Marissa Alexander decided that the best protection against a husband with a history of domestic violence aimed at her was to shoot a warning shot in her home while gathering her keys to flee. No. Not shot a gun at him. Not hit him with the gun. But shoot the gun in the air. No body was damaged except for that of the home.
Marissa faced 60 years based on Florida’s 10-20-rule. She would plead ‘Guilty’ to the charges in a very quirky plea arrangement in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 27, 2015. After serving the better part of five years in prison, her sentencing for shooting ceilings was time served and two-years on electronic monitoring and house arrest, except for approved appointments and employment.
In a similar vein as that of Aiyana, much of the Marissa story goes untold for years until Trayvon Martin is killed by George Zimmerman. Due to both cases being in Florida, and Zimmerman being defended primarily under the “Stand Your Ground” implement, questions regarding Florida’s unjust application arose.
On March 21, 2012, 22 year old Rekia Boyd was killed by Chicago cops after visiting with friends on Chicago’s W. 15th place. According to attorney James D. Montgomery, Rekia was with friends as an off-duty Chicago Police Detective Dante Servin told a neighboring group to “shut up” and opened fire after the ensuing exchange of acrimonies. During an attempt to flee, Rekia was struck in the head and died a little over 24 hours. Her friend, Antonio Cross was struck in his hand.
Servin was eventually indicted involuntary manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct on November 25, 2013. That initial charge had been continued in courts until Jan. 21, 2015. At the time of this writing, Servin still has not been to trial for the murder of Rekia, but is pending a court date on April 9, 2015.
There has been limited media attention surrounding Rekia’s murder. Initial space was given when 200 protesters appeared outside of the officer’s house. Rekia’s brother, Martinez Sutton, has been extremely diligent in spreading the details of his sister’s murder by Chicago police. But, much of the outcry is much like the cases of Aiyana and Marissa, a result of other cases involving Black males getting a certain level of attention and identity politicians not being able to get in those spaces.
32-year-old former Citigroup banker Kam Brock states that she was accosted while driving her BMW and forcibly sedated while confined in September of 2014. New York Pigs stopped her, and when they suspected her of having smoked marijuana due to her truthful claim that Barack Obama followed her on Twitter, she had her vehicle impounded and was forcibly confined to a psychiatric hospital. She would be held hostage for 8 days, while being misdiagnosed as “bipolar”.
Media attention on this scant if any at all. Most reports of this event that I have come across are more concerned with using Barack Obama’s name and doing Twitter investigations to see if in fact the account is following Kam’s Twitter account. Not one has mentioned the dourly traumatic experience Kam faced that reads much like Solomon Northrup’s “12 Years A Slave”. The need to minimize and trivialize this narrative to Twitter social politics is alarming, yet indicative of a media system that wishes to contain the anger of American Black Women. It should also be noted that of the media outlets I have read covering this, most are international outlets.
Anger is loaded with information and energy.
In some strange and possibly clinically diagnosable way, I often seek to view these sorts of societal responses from a zen-like point of view. It is what it is. WE are who and more important, what, we are. It is alright to be angry when Black girls are killed while sleeping and nothing more than slaps on the wrists, hand clasps behind closed doors, and check writing to those tasked with upholding what little sense of justice is to be had for Blacks in this country remains the only punishment. It is natural to be angered by the treatment of Black Women in the same we are angered by our males being slaughtered, because Black Women and Girls are also being slaughtered.
Every woman has a well-stacked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlying our lives.
There is absolutely no need to peer peripherally to see if anyone else is upset. Do not wait for groupthink to process your application of anger. The Universe has already borne witness to the growing inferno in your chest cavity; it is tapping its foot with impatience as you hold up galactic orbits and whatever natural order that mandates an emotional discharge that you’ve decided to silence.
In the sentient world outside of mankind, evolution may be the order of the day;but in the human social kingdom, revolution is the only nature worthy of worship. The force of society’s greed and brutality has a counterbalance, your anger. Where the Black Woman and Girl is underappreciated in every avenue that her work, loyalty, and consumer spending has made an avenue worthy of appreciation, anger is a justifiable coin. Where the Black Woman and Girl are murdered, beaten, raped, confined to quarters designed for control and mental mischief-making, anger is more than justified as an answer.
Whatever it might be that causes the blindness of awareness to only be afraid for the lives of Black boys and men in the country that built its capitalism on babies torn from the womb of Black Women needs to be cured, and quickly. It is an insane response to the reality we all are facing. Police brutality does not have those neat designs found on the doors of public restrooms denoting male and female facilities. Whyte Supremacy is unisexual and we all are getting it.
We are not going against the grain by being angry. Anger at the hostilities that Black Women and Girls are being meted out is rationale. It is our silence, our contentment, our complacency, our acting as if, our turning of cheeks, our artificial patience that is going against the grain of the structure of the organic matrix or matrices. It is unhealthy to hold in such magical properties as found in the anger of Black folks.
To turn aside from the anger of Black women with excuses or the pretexts of intimidation is to award no one power — it is merely another way of preserving racial blindness, the power of unaddressed privilege, unbreached, intact. Guilt is only another form of objectification. Oppressed peoples are always being asked to stretch a little more, to bridge the gap between blindness and humanity. Black women are expected to use our anger only in the service of other people’s salvation or learning. But that time is over. My anger has meant pain to me but it has also meant survival, and before I give it up I’m going to be sure that there is something at least as powerful to replace it on the road to clarity.