The day after a breakup, I always look AMAZING. Even if my heart is breaking, my curls are just right, and my curves are hoisted into a dress and sitting pretty in 5 inch heels. My own mother insists that I should never, ever cry, so makeup and cat-eye sunglasses cover up any bags under my eyes.
I basically end up looking like a 1950s movie star on holiday.
The Monday morning after Zimmerman was set free, I did look just that good. But my heart was breaking–still is. How do you get over the realization that your country loves you less because of your skin color? I put on red lipstick to remind the world that I am just as beautiful, and as worthy of protection as the white citizens of this country.
My friend K brought me back to earth, however. She wrote, “People love to hate.” In other words, no amount of physical beauty or intelligence could change the fact that some people will hate me because I’m black. Worse, it seems that the justice system awards hatred, rather than punishes it. So someone can hate me, can act on their assumptions about me, and not be punished for it–because my skin color automatically means I’m a threat.
We are a nation of haters.
We all have haters–people who “hate on us” because we look too good, we’re too smart, and we have had too many awesome things happen to us. But this form of hatred is really a deep sense of envy. And we can say, with a sense of pride, “yeah, girl, this person is hating on me because I have the new Birkin bag and she’s still on Coach.”
And we’re all like:
But the version of hatred that’s been popping up lately is different. It’s not a sense of envy that your hair looks good, or you have the navy 2013 BMW with cream interiors. It’s “I don’t like you. I don’t like the way you look. The way you look is a threat to me. You are so much of a threat I need to hurt, maim or kill you.”
That’s a different type of hate.
Do y’all remember Mary J. Blige’s Family Affair? She’s talking about having a good time at a party, and then she says, “I don’t need no hateration.”
For weeks now, that line has been on repeat in my head. Like Mary, I don’t need no hateration. Unfortunately, however, America has always been a hater(n)ation. Its history of slavery, imperialism, racism, sexism is repulsive. Like an idiot, I’ve been trying to win America back. “I’m smart, I’m pretty, I’m successful, I’m well-educated,” I tell my friends. “Why isn’t America into me? Why won’t America love me?”
The only way America and I can get back together is when it wakes up and realizes that it has a problem. You can’t say that you love me, that you want me to participate as a full citizen, and out of the corner of your mouth award those who kill people who look like me.
K. pointed out that racial hatred isn’t just a black-white issue. After all, Zimmerman is half-Hispanic. However, we are having this debate about racial hatred in a country that culturally classifies people as either white or black. Just as most people recognize President Obama as black, most recognizes Zimmerman as white, despite the fact that they are both biracial.
For those who think that racism isn’t all that bad, take a look at these tweets about Trayvon Martin:
And take a look at this attack on Lester Chambers, who simply dedicated a song to Trayvon Martin:
There are so many more that I could post.
In a song about a breakup, Alicia Keys wailed, “where do we go from here?”
Girl…I don’t even know! Petitions are floating around, there are marches and vigils, and all of it makes me feel hopeless. My friends and I are having frank conversations about how to raise our unborn children in this world. My male friends are talking about what they would say to their unborn sons about how to be a black man. I’m wondering how I can best love a black man–my father, brothers, friend, future husband and future sons–in a country that wants to destroy them.
There’s an idea for a boycott floating around, but that would hurt black people who live in Florida. http://business.time.com/2013/07/16/boycott-florida-the-relative-effectiveness-of-protesting-an-entire-state/
The hopelessness I feel after a breakup has seeped into my life. I can and will continue to pray. Like Alicia Keys, I feel as if America and I “are at the crossroads, my dear…where do we go from here?”