The Burden of an Exhausted Black Man
by Dr. Jackey Smith
31 May 2020
Today, in the face of crisis and the undeniable pain a nation divided feels, where is the voice of leadership? This is a rhetorical question.
The United States is in a state of chaos. We have an absence of competence in the highest levels of leadership. A pandemic has been mismanaged which has resulted in the deaths of over 100k Americans.
Metaphorically speaking, salt continues to be poured into the wounds of a people whose oppression within this country is consistently dismissed, and minimized. White privilege exist, and those who deny it are those who benefit from it, and to acknowledge it would require a level of self-awareness and accountability that others in this country are not privileged to hold. This privilege conveniently blinds, impairs and insulates them from feeling anything beyond the surface of a pain communities of color inescapably live in everyday.
The victimization we as Black People face, specifically, the modern day lynchings at the hands of both law enforcement, even among ourselves (Black on Black Crime), and those who see no value in my life as a Black man, to put it frankly, is exhausting.
I’m beyond weary trying to explain what it’s like being a Black Man in America to people who really don’t give a damn, but it makes them feel connected. I’m tired, feeling as though I have to be apologetic and bear the various emotional forms of fragility because my reality as a Black Man makes those with privilege uncomfortable.
I’m exhausted being told, "You're different. You're not like other Black People." Why? I ask. What makes me different? I am a Black Man.
I’m also exhausted each day that I walk into spaces where I face and fight daily racial battlefield fatigue, but am expected to smile and remain silent because “less is more.” I temper their anxieties and mine with humor so that there is an artificial sense of safety in the moment.
Frankly, I’m exhausted pretending to be invisible because my Black Male presence is seen as a threat even when I sit in silence.
I’m exhausted extending my condolences to families whose sons and daughters have been slaughtered for no reason at all, and then be expected to comfort when I too am seeking comfort.
I am exhausted. I am angry. I am afraid. I am disgusted.
How many George Foyds will there be? How many times will history continue to repeat? How do we change a system that has been in place for such a length of time? These thoughts alone is exhausting.
We must fight racism together. I can't do it alone. We need to do better.