Ferguson Is in Flames, Mike Brown Is Dead But America Is Still My Home


As an American black woman, these last seven days have been so emotional that I cried this morning. I cried because I saw a photo of my friend’s daughter on first day of kindergarten and her little thrilled face at the things that she’s accomplished and what lies ahead. She’s hopeful and at almost 34, I don’t know if I am anymore. Last night, while watching a live web feed of peaceful protestors in Ferguson, Missouri being gassed and terrorized by American cops in riot gear, I made the same joke many of us have for decades: I’m moving to another country. But where?

We’ve already covered here on Parlour that every shining European country where the maternity leave is amazing (Hi Germany!) might not be the best in terms of diversity because of racist practices that few who aren’t of color notice. A few examples are the Dutch’s Zwarte Piet celebration, where whites dress in black face at Christmas (which they recently realized was questionable enough to act upon) or France’s obsession with how muslim women practice their religion sartorially or Italians tossing racist slurs at their first black cabinet member, Cécile Kyenge. It stands to reason that no matter where a person of color goes, people will be fools. But when the foolishness happens in your own country, how will that effect your travels elsewhere?

James Baldwin once said “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” He was right and in 2014, I’d say that feeling, while omnipresent, is simmering just below the surface for African Americans. When we live in other countries, we can take a break from the burden of color consciousness handed down to us by this country’s tumultuous racial history. We might even get to the point where we forget to count how many other chocolate dots are at a party with us. It really is freeing, but then we come home and remember all too well our social status in the country where black women are shot in the face and we are stunned when the killer is actually found guilty. Black life is expendable here, despite President Obama’s color. In fact, society’s racial tension is probably tightening because of his race because for every step forward, there are innumerable steps back toward the days of Ida B. Wells and her anti-lynching campaign — except today it’s the shootings of black people.

This morning I am angry, I’m livid but I know that black Americans can’t run. We can’t take a break in another country’s land. Like my Egyptian friends who refuse to leave Cairo because they want to help their country move into the future, the only way things will change in the States is if you and I change them. For me as a journalist, that means supporting the people in Ferguson with media coverage like this piece, retweeting journalists like Wesley Lowery who are on the ground, being harassed and arrested while covering that city’s rampant police misconduct and showing the world that their illegal and inappropriate use of force and riot gear does not represent me.

We won’t stand for this homegrown terrorism. My ancestors were slaves, my great grandfather was a sharecropper in Texas, my grandfather lived through Jim Crow segregation, lynching, peonage, desegregation and Reaganomics. We can not return to what those generations and others endured and fought against. I will continue to travel and learn what life as an American is like on other shores but I ain’t moving anywhere. America is my home and if I have to fight in my way to make this problematic place somewhere I’m proud to call home, then fuck it, we out here.

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