A conversation with my sister had me in tears today. She wanted to know how I was doing, really.
I’m fine, I said.
Have you had a chance to scream, to shout? she asked.
Nope, too busy, I said.
Next thing boom! you’re down, she answered.
What do you mean? I asked.
The fact that you’re not talking about it means that you are really hurt, she said. Did you watch George Floyd? The funeral?
No, I told her. “I couldn’t, too angry to cry. In fact, I’m tired of protesting, I wrote a piece about that too. I am talking about it. I am tired.
Mom watched the funeral, she said. How is she? I asked. She’s fine.
“It’s nothing new,’ I said surprising anger rising up my throat as I started to remember that that’s how uncle Vusi died, how Jopi died, how Thente died, how Siyabonga died, how fungile died, how mamani died, that’s how my great-grand-father died, how his wife died, how her children died, all of them. Our entire family has been wiped out. It’s how my aunts died – it’s how everyone in my family died, violently oppressed from all sides by the racist anti-black world systems. left with nothing but their memories in our hearts. I can’t. “We’ve been protesting for so many years, when will it stop? I said. We haven’t even stopped fighting each other here at home, we kill each other at home too!
Just when you’re about to forget that you are black, as if you can ever forget, someone decides to remind you that, oh by the way – you’re not welcome here, don’t get too comfortable. I continued suddenly incensed.
Just the other day my housemates and I took a walk on the beach. A cop called out the only black guy he could see among every other person walking on the beach in Cape Town. My housemate is a software engineer. The cop didn’t know he was with me because I’d been walking very slowly behind him, he was far, but I could see what was about to happen to him. I walked up to them as he was leading him the police car, so I told him we are together and we’re going nowhere without him, especially since he did not break any law. He let us go.
Then, when we complain they say we’re pulling the race card, and roll their eyes! I can’t anymore, I said. To make matters worse we don’t even love ourselves, I almost screamed.”
But how can we love? she asked.
How are we supposed to know how to love when we’ve been stabbed in the heart from birth? she asked. “After generations and centuries of being told that we don’t matter? That our lives are expendable, useless, worthless. Today, now it’s not just black people saying #BlackLivesMatter, it’s everyone.”
“We are not crazy to act this way, it comes from somewhere, it’s the racism they give.
Times of ignorance are gone. The whole world is not only saying it – but seeing what has been done to black bodies hearts and minds over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Of always being accused of being inadequate, weak, not smart enough, or brave enough to get up and fend for ourselves when they’ve been choking the very life out of us. this. whole. time.
The lives black people have been forced to live, in different squatter- camp-ghettoes across the world from Beijing to the Favelas of Brazil, Hollywood, and Australia, South Sudan. No matter how much we try, their knees keep pushing us down, sucking the air out of our lungs. So we collectively gasp for breath. Delirious.
Now, everyone is standing for us and with us.
You’re not crazy. We are not crazy. she said.
Then, the flood-gates opened.
“I’ve learned that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.” from Paolo Coelho’s blog post