I cried at work the other day to my closest, white coworker. I wasn’t at all embarrassed and afterwards I felt a little relief. It stemmed from her simply asking, “Are you okay?” before the tears fell. Now please know that this was not the first time that she and I had spoken since George Floyd was killed. I just wasn’t my normal, happy self at work and she noticed. I couldn’t put on the front. I wasn’t ok and frankly hadn’t been for awhile. I’ve been heavily burdened by all that’s happening in the world to MY black people. Yes they are mine even if some aren’t making decisions I would make…..or naming their children names that some frown upon….or have criminal histories…..or smoke marijuana….or are poor…..you get the point. They have to be mine because if not who do they belong to? I can’t trust America with them as we can see by those sending money to Dylan Roof’s criminal defense team or those freely spewing their hate in their Facebook comments. It is all becoming a horrible norm that I refuse to let desensitize me.
Lately, I’ve been a constantly, changing ball of emotions regarding the state of the great ol’ US of A. Just when I think I am emotionally getting a little better another video surfaces showing a black (unarmed) person being gunned down. And now there are various “suicides” being reported where men are being found hanging from trees. Yes, HANGING FROM TREES as if we’ve stepped back in time 300 years or maybe less than the past decade where a black, young man was hung in Mississippi for dating a white girl! I just can’t believe that these men are committing suicide in this manner. And I won’t. I then find myself repeating the grief cycle. It’s taking one step forward and two, giant steps backwards multiple times a week in addition to all the other stressors in my life. It’s exhausting, and I’m exhausted. More videos have surfaced recently showing the officers, who shot and killed 27 year-old Rayshard Brooks, standing on his body and kicking him as he lay dying. I can’t bring myself to watch it. I get tears just thinking about it.
Not long ago, I was listening to a video of one of my favorite influencers and she discussed her husband’s take on today’s current events. The analogy he offered was perfect. Now if you’re an Avengers lover like myself it’ll resonate with you too. In “Marvel’s The Avengers” there’s a moment when Captain America tells Bruce Banner it’d be a great time to get angry. His reply: “That’s my secret, Captain. I’m always angry.” Boom!
Essentially that’s what her husband’s reply was to how he managed to appear ok during the strife of our nation. Listening to her tell this story made emotions I’d been pushing down bubble to the top and I sobbed. Not only because it was sad but because I finally was able to relate my feelings to something. Let’s coin it the “Bruce Banner Syndrome”.
Can you see why that would apply to being black? Being black in America is going through the motions of life suppressing the disappointment you feel for being treated differently simply because of your skin color. It’s the largest, hard pill you can swallow. I know because I swallow it. It’s true that regardless of race you can be dealt a bad hand, but today we’re talking about those of us with pigmented skin. Being black is learning to be angry and learning to constantly control it because you don’t want anyone to judge you for being upset about the “small stuff” or being perceived as a threat simply by your presence.
Being black, unlike Banner, is never being able to release your anger because it’s frowned upon. How can someone tell me not to be angry? How can someone tell me that I am not a slave and that I should move on? Having the expectation that I should have an “everything is alright” with the world attitude is absurd. Please don’t misconstrue my professional credentials to ever think that I remotely have the beliefs of Cand….who. She doesn’t even deserve to be spoken of in my post. I wouldn’t ever tell people to forget the manner in which the World Trade Centers collapsed or dependents of Holocaust survivors to stop talking about it. Why? Because that sounds ridiculous. Yes, it’s an ugly history but some stories don’t have final chapters and keep going when the scenes, characters, and settings change.
Being black is beautiful. It’s learning to appreciate your culture when others mock and shame it. We, black people, don’t have to conform to what and who others think we should be. If they can’t appreciate us for who we are then we have to leave them where they are. Honestly, they’re the ones missing out. It’s not hard to love others regardless of differences. There’s no way that people will ALWAYS agree but disagreeing doesn’t mean that we can’t stand together for what’s right.
The Bruce Banner Syndrome is real. Acknowledge it, know it, feel it, and sit in it. Take time to heal and if you’re non-black give people time to heal. Yes we are strong and will continue to fight but give us our time. Yes, we’ve earned it.