LIVING SICK AND TIRED IN TRUMP’S AMERICA
“Isn’t 400 years enough?” James BaldwinI am a black woman and like Fannie Lou Hamer, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.’’ I am tired of seeing black people fight for their equal rights and against the embolden acts of brutality and murder committed by racist police. These cops when stripped of their blue uniform, gun and shield, becomes just another white person harboring an insidious thirst for power and an unwavering sense of entitlement, coupled with a sickening sort of dislike and fear of black people. I am sick of learning about another black person, be it man, woman or child, being confronted on a regular basis by some privileged, racist, white person as testament to a preconceived notion that they are somehow better; that they are somehow smarter and more capable; that they belong in Trump’s “Whites Only” America! I am a product of the South, where black people lived complacent in a white man’s Jim Crow. Where segregated laws were enacted to keep the races divided… I grew up happily roaming about under the auspices of a quiet countryside where honeysuckle blossomed, blueberries flourished, fish were jumping, (metaphorically speaking) and cotton was king. I lived my younger years unaware of the world’s reality that plagued the underbelly of the Mississippi Delta. Being raised on the farm shielded by our parents, my siblings and I knew little about the racist beast sweltering in the hearts and minds of white people. A fierce hate for me because of the color of my skin. The murderous acts carried out against black people. Change brings an awareness that aligns with the shedding of ones’ youth. And oftentimes we bear witness to how “the more things change the more they stay the same.” It’s 2020 and I am sick and tired of living sick and tired.
In 2016, something shifted in my heart and soul. More than ever before. More than those countless other times when I have cried and prayed and cried some more. There were sleepless nights, a heaviness of pain and sorrow when Treyvon Martin was murdered. When Tamir Rice, only twelve years old was fired upon by white cops, killing a kid who was merely playing in the park. Michael Brown, shot in the back by police as he walked away from the glare of police lights and raised weapons…Sandra Bland, an activist for her people, was treated like a criminal on the roadside where she was stopped and handcuffed and later found hanging dead in her jail cell… all senseless murders and no justice.Every black person lives with the reality that it could be my son, my daughter, my granddaughters and grandsons-just because of their black skin. This White Nationalist, this lawless, illegitimate President quipped how there were “good people on both sides” during the Charlottesville protest that claimed the life of Heather Heyer, a young white woman trying to be on the right side of history. When immigrant children and babies were ripped from the arms of their parents at the border crossings, to be housed in unsanitary and cold conditions in cages; something died in my heart and in my soul. This unfathomable racist Trump policy is a crime against humanity, an impromptu policy sealed by a show of hands spearheaded by the white nationalist, Stephen Miller. Kirstjen Nielsen, the former Dept of Homeland Security Secretary would later sign off on this vicious act. None of us should forget the images of the father and baby girl drowned in each other’s arms, or the little girl who died of thirst and elevated temperature on the long journey to a perceived America’s freedom.Months down the road, Trump gears up his base for his re-election, families are suffering under a continuing pandemic with over 176,000 people dead and more affected by this virus, while he plays golf and takes no responsibility. People are losing their jobs, businesses, homes, and livelihoods, wondering how they are going to feed their families. In real time, this lawless administration is using the post office to suppress our votes, while continuing to spread divisive information to scare voters. The American people are suffering. At this writing police officers shot yet another unarmed black man seven times in the back, in front of his children. He is fighting for his life. We must never stop holding these cops accountable and demand justice when they continue to kill black people on a whim, brutalize peaceful protestors and protect racist hate groups.
Dr. Cornell West, the esteemed Philosopher, Political Activist and Harvard Professor, said we become well-adjusted to a maladjusted situation. My prayer for all of us; black, white, brown, and red people is that we stand strong together in the strength of our democratic freedoms, with love for our children and grandchildren and the sacrifice of the elders guiding our faith. That we the people, make a historic change in November. Vote for our democracy with intent, purpose, and fervor; for ourselves and for the generations to come.
George Floyd’s little girl, Gianna, six years old, bravely shouted to all who were listening “daddy changed the world!” That he did. And for all the George Floyds, Brianna Taylors, Ahmed Aubrey’s, Aiyana Joneses, and so many others who lost their lives at the hands of racist police officers, you changed the world, charged our hearts, and set fire to a movement. #OurBlackLivesMatter #WeAreDoneDying #NoJusticeNoPeace
Follow Clara Freeman on Twitter at C50something and look for her essay, “AN UNNAMED ACTIVIST” in the new Anthology, IMPACT: Personal Portraits of Activism, due out in September.