Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power–not because they don’t see it, but because they see it and they don’t want it to exist. -bell hooks
Whiteness knows that Black lives matter; that’s the starting point. They been done peeped that. They peeped that during slavery and kept us as property because we have been, and always will be the basis of white wealth, value, purpose and power. They created the Black Codes to keep Blackness bound, because just a few years of Reconstruction showed that the perverse feelings, fears and gaze of whiteness was nothing but gasoline on the fire of a black survival practice that swept up coin, resources and reaffirmed Black humanity, intelligence, grit, love and survivorship. It served as a means to keep us bound in the need for acceptance once more. Black women launched a domestic campaign post-Reconstruction to to ‘clean house,’ the beginnings of the stronghold of respectability politics. It begged whiteness to gaze upon what they thought could be washed over. It was the type of campaign that pitted blackness against blackness, as not everyone could be part of a movement that as Lorde warned us (and it rings true today even before she said it) would always fail to accomplish its goals because of the rusted, trapped nature of its tools.
One could argue that the dehumanization, commodification, and enslavement of Black peoples constitutes an unparalleled crime against humanity. Consequently, the resiliences borne out of these histories remain the most powerful threat to the racial status quo in the United States and White supremacy worldwide. They know that Black lives matter. Their very existence is predicated on this knowledge as fact and this knowledge as an “unknown”. But we know better. They knew Black lives matter, through and true, during Jim Crow and the creation of the modern Black Codes (prison industrial complex, inequitable enforcement, criminalization of poverty and non-culture), so they created policy regimes that birthed and reared a separate Black reality–a de facto Black America bonded through racialized living conditions–marked, maimed, lashed and stereotyped by behavior (read:’survival practices) necessary in order to defeat corporeal death through these animalistic torture and hazing practices (bombings, scientific tests, drug drops, military grade police violence and drivebys, assassinations). They systematically attempted to kill us by stealing our faith in God, science, state, police and home as guardians of our safety, our humanity, the sense that our Black lives could matter, not even to us. Only whiteness could protect or redeem us. We remain unconvinced.
They know that Black lives matter. Indeed, that all Black lives matter. They are watching you and I. They been woke. After all, this nation is the home of white supremacist, heterosexist, patriarchal, capitalistic, imperialist rule…and we are expected to perform as its humble servants; always serving, perhaps surviving, never living, freely. For want of a gaze we end up bodies hanging, bodies laying–dead, with a contagion of paralysis. When we appeal to them or shake the chandeliers to show ourselves and be seen and affirmed, we may do a work of having a life that matters–like a fly that buzzes to announce its presence–but only because they said so. When the buzz becomes a distraction, a swatter is always at arms-length. When Black people find themselves as worthy of love, safety, or even oxygen, we are dealt with as the threats we are. When we position the existence of our humanity upon the persistence of the white gaze, we allow our lives to flash in the blink of an unbothered eye. Perhaps we might add an addendum to a worthy mantra: Black lives matter to us, and now white terrorism and exploitation will have consequences. We do not, and have never, toiled for their gaze, approval or attention for authentication. I am because you are, we are because the Cosmos had a sense of fairness to this world. When Baldwin wrote on the uses of the blues, it was about the power we can claim in life that they cannot use or abuse because they do not understand it. It has never been about whether or not Black lives forgive whiteness for its history of erasure, but rather about whiteness’ ongoing need to have us long for its gaze and acceptance, in chains economic, psychosocial and extrajudicial. We do not shuck and jive for white tears. We shut shit down until structures stand for the maintenance of our liberation. If they do not stand, we can no longer afford to mourn their fall. This is the last curtain call.
These are the spaces we choose to exist in. We are making these and reshaping them daily. We are reshaping our world in the process. We must use them to gather together all who are living, to make them woke to this reality, these realities, and a part of the liberatory body as well. This is the work of building through love and communal support. By re-centering blackness, blaqueerness and black womynhood into the power and humanity of black hands, black love, and black spaces, we find liberation. We know our worth as a masterpiece, an intimate thing that does not need to hang against pale-white walls to be seen, to be felt, to be beautiful. We do not need to hang to be beautiful. We must meet pleas for enlightenment with demands for revolutionary and system-shattering honesty– to be less invested in the inoperable American surgery of “making” Black life “matter” and more invested in revealing the ignorance as myth and White denial of knowing as a deadly force, is indeed a noble decree. We will no longer be circumcised by the dull scalpel of whiteness unleashed. So next time we shut shit down, and indeed we must, we shall make all parties aware–black, brown and white, white supremacists-terrorists alike–it’s about us. It’s the terrorism, boo.
With Liberatory Love,
The Editors of BlaQueerFlow: The Griot’s Pen
Jonathan Jacob Moore