“Although the slave might be socially dead, he (they) remained nonetheless an element of society. So the problem arose: how was he (they) to be incorporated? Religion explains how it is possible to relate to the dead who still live. It says little about how ordinary people should relate to the living who are dead. This is the final cultural dilemma posed by the problem of slavery.”
– Orlando Patterson
Slavery and Social Death
There’s a process for me, in the aftermath of direct anti-blackness.
Uptempo third coast hip hop pulses through my veins.
(The low key consistency of adrenaline flooding the body causes fatigue, hallucinations….)
I feel the edge of a knife, the hot spittle of privileged dissent. At once boy has become enraged, incensed at the autonomy of someone he considers to be beneath him. A life is almost taken on a bright hot street in Portland OR.
I often find myself standing or sitting still, just trying to catch my breath because my heart is beatin’ like a fuckin’ drum..”
In a dream state I query the ancestors. I’m met with laughter wheezing out of necks broken by chain and rope.
Wake up with the shakes, burning flesh on my tongue, mistrust explained in a deadpan soliloquy. “I’m good,” annoying as mantra.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been spit on. It was the first time I’d had to hit someone for it.
The first time, I was around 12, waiting on my ride to pick me up after a community college basketball game. It was dark and emptying fast. My ride was late. Drunk white male doesn’t approve of my proximity. His wife slaps his shoulder playfully, pulling him away as I wiped his vitriol from my face, and glasses. That night I hated my white stepmother more than usual when she pulled to the curb. I wanted it to be my Dad picking me up so I could tell him what happened.
Instead, I never said anything.
Lethargy, followed by an intense need to clean the house. Mildly irritated by every little thing..
Bare minimum human interaction, adrift in a fiction where a post human queerity conclave awaits me upon my release from the corporate machine.
The music slows….
Our individual reaction varies. The echo that I can’t escape stems from almost dying in the name of a white dystopian fatherland. I cannot abide direct anti-blackness without stress sweat. A heightened state of wish a muthafucka would, then suspicion, fear and aggression towards strange white folks. Followed by days of internal dialogue. Even now, while fully understanding how Otherness outside of blackness also plays into the formula. As opposed to wishing away my blackness/queerness I become resolute.
I push people away, especially my white accomplices, co-workers. My best friend and nesting partner. All I crave is the company of Others. Black death turns my stomach and causes me to cry. I am blasted down to numbers and supposition. Oddity fit for consumption, annotated in these predominantly white spaces.
This will often drag on for weeks as I cycle down into depression. With a surety I am eventually investing heavily in taking on the emotional labor that I so casually dumped upon my loved ones.
I also write. Yea thou I walk through the belly of this Continuum I shall fear no evil. I know I’m fucked up. This is how I deal with it.
Telling me to let go (let God) forgive, might get you cussed out. Banned from my life at least. I have nothing to forgive. I have a right to exist, crave and love just like the oppressor offspring and pedestrians looking the opposite way.
There’s no letting go. Not ever. This is the shape of my conviction, braving the fires of this fully actualized European ethnostate. I have obligated myself to molding that conviction into melanated armor.
I am at best the forge, the waterfall and I will keep putting it in your face. I will not convenience you by shutting up. After this administration is done, memory of self is all we’ll have. Griots and fables. I plan to be in that number.