A police officer. White male. Decent looking. Walks into a Starbucks in Charlotte, NC. I park my car, get out and enter the Starbucks behind him. I find him online talking to a “Southern Gent,” the kind that might rave about his time at Ole Miss over mint juleps on a Sunday afternoon. They are mid conversation. Sounds like their talking about the dangers of being a cop and how effective the vest can be. I only hear them mocking Michael Browns death. The Southern Gent thanks him, then buys him a coffee for all he does for all of us. By that time, I’m seething. I am literally shaking in anger. I watch the Southern Gent condescend to the all Black staff like they are simple minded Darkies who need looking after and clear simple direction if they are to understand the complexities of making a latte.
He and the Officer continue their chat. They talk German Shepherds and kids. I think about how my kid would not likely be safe from a German Shepherd they were holding the leash of. The cop gets his coffee and he leaves. I’m so angry I can’t see. Did they do anything to me? Nope. Was I justified in my anger? Probably not. My anger stems from having to view the world through the lens of a Black woman for 38 years and a Black mother for 15.
For those who feel I’m racializing things when I don’t need to, please give me another way to see the world. As it is not one bit of fuckin’ fun living with this bubbling just underneath the surface, this fearful cautiousness that has me on edge when I’m around my white friends drunk and scared to death their gonna say something stupid because I’ve made them feel comfy, or when that rage crashes to the surface after a knowing look, the sound of a certain southern twang, the sight of a police car when I’m on the road alone at night, when I’m in a room full of white men and I’m the only Black female; even when the men are ones I know, love and trust. I NOTICE it. And I wish like hell I didn’t, but I do.
Post-racials, I’m begging you, PLEASE give me a solution that isn’t grounded in guilt, denial and which includes you actually owning up to the fact that racism is as alive today as it ever was. If you can’t, or if you continue to perpetuate the lie of post-racism and victim blaming, then the La-Z-Boys are in the back … be seated, and be grateful that I have enough self awareness to understand that I don’t have to act out on my anger/frustration because I feel it. If Darren Wilson had been a little more self aware and a little less hell bent on acting out on his privilege maybe Michael Brown would still be alive.