The Fire and Rage of Black America Lives Within Me
I’m tired because Black people continue to be killed disproportionately and nothing ever changes
My 15-month-old Ghananian American nephew is the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever laid eyes on. We call him “the King” because he’s got us wrapped around his chubby little fingers. I’m a proud auntie who loves everything about him, from his chestnut-colored skin to his wild, kinky locks. I love the way he mimics his Ghanaian American father when he drives his tiny toy car and miniature motorbike. I love the way his dark brown eyes light up when he sees his mother and how he laughs with abandon just like me.
He’s too young to understand the injustices that are lurking around the corner or that eventually he’ll be seen as a threat. I hope he never has to feel the same quiet rage that’s been percolating inside of me since my childhood. I hope he never has to experience a whitewashed world that has told Black people over and over again that we are less than and that we are second-class citizens.
I’m blessed to have a great-aunt in her eighties from rural Alabama who has seen it all. She reminds me that I’m a marvelous work and a wonder. Although I have a laundry list of negative things that have been said and done to me in the country of my birth, I recognize my beauty and my worth, and I try not to let ignorance and stupidity eat away at me.
But still the fire percolates inside me. It rises with the never-ending cycle of senseless violence, murder, and hate. It rages inside me every time a Black life is unjustly extinguished and when those responsible — be it those in law enforcement or a neighborhood vigilante — continue to walk free. The fire within me makes me feel sad, angry, and less hopeful. My optimism has been replaced by cynicism. I now think about leaving the country that I love; it just doesn’t love people who look like me.
The fire rose within me when I learned that Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed African American man, was murdered in his Georgia neighborhood in February by two white vigilantes during a morning jog and that his death was concealed for months until a leaked video was released.