Let me start by saying that, within reason, I am privileged and blessed. I’m privileged to have a family that’s been able to stay financially stable during the COVID-19 quarantine, privileged to have government assistance when many others do not, and blessed that no one in my life has been infected. I have the privilege of being able to keep food in my kitchen and cuddle my loving partner while I wait for this all to be over. I will never pretend that my life is harder than it actually is. I’m lucky enough to live in Atlanta, where the minute a police brutality case arose, the officers were punished a day later.
However, I’m absolutely terrified.
I always liked to imagine I would be more militant if a time like this ever came. When I studied black history I always agreed with Malcolm X over MLK, and thought of the Black Panthers as true heroes. I’ve always said that the only reason White America worships MLK so much is because he was the less scary alternative. I never imagined that in times of lock-down, quarantine, and police calling open season on “anyone suspicious” that I would see my front door as a death sentence. For all my tattoos, punk music, and combat boots, I’m almost too afraid to go grocery shopping. I have friends who have been attacked in their cities simply for being alive. For every principle I’ve tried to live by, when the world bared it’s teeth, I hid. I’m a coward. But I don’t want to be.
This is not an excuse, but my mental health has been absolutely destroyed these last few weeks and I don’t see a light at the end of this tunnel. I feel as though I’ve been ripped in half, and yet, I’ve been black my whole life. I’ve known the history of injustice for as long as I can remember. I had my first racist encounter in second grade. This feeling shouldn’t feel new, because it isn’t. I’ve always known I could be the next Trayvon Martin or George Floyd, so why now, does that reality leave me paralyzed? I want to be out there, fist raised in defiance, saying for my ancestors as well as my future descendants that our lives matter. But I’m a pacifist who shatters when people yell at me and can’t even deal with my friends when they get mad at a video game. I’m extremely non-confrontational. Driving through the city a few days ago brought me to tears cause I saw some of the military vehicles that were being put onto our streets. My anxiety has become crippling to a point where sometimes I feel too weak to move and have to rely on my boyfriend for something as simple as a glass of water.
I hold all the ideals of the militant black revolutionary, but no matter how much I want it, I’m incapable to joining their ranks. When years have passed, am I going to look in my child’s face and tell them that while the world fought for my life, I cowered in my home? Is that my fate? I know this isn’t cohesive or well written, and that’s because right now, my mind is in chaos. I don’t know what to do and I’m ashamed of myself. I’ve seen all the posts saying not to feel bad if I’m not built for the front lines, but I do feel bad. What kind of person am I if I don’t fight for myself and everyone else like me?
I was almost too afraid of COVID to leave my house, but racism and white supremacy has me fully trapped. I pray that when I wake up it’s all over, but sense that doesn’t seem possible, I also pray that I wake up strong enough and brave enough to stand alongside my brothers and sisters tomorrow.