Ever since George Zimmerman got acquitted for the killing of Trayvon Martin, I have been swept by disappointment in the American justice system. Despite my hope in where the country may be headed, the one constant is still proliferation of the American black male as more of a threat to society than an asset. I have had to take walks in my neighborhood with a little more caution expecting the worst in whites and middle-easterners around to manifest. Hoping for a young male or female walking their dog to cross pavements upon sight of me for fear of me, as I walk with my head held high defying their prejudice with my dignity.
Then it hit me. I still have to live my life. I still have to pursue my goals as a human being. I still have to improve my craft as writer/actor and filmmaker. I still have to eat healthy. I still have to cope with family presence and loss. I still have pay my bills, put gas in my car, show up for work on time, vote in the upcoming local election, clean my house go on that date with that girl – the one who gave me her number even though she saw me go for her friend first, and yes, TAKE OUT THE TRASH. Yes, it is clear there are obstacles out to scar my experience of happiness but at the end of the day, once I give into the fear of those scars by looking over my shoulder so as so explain my presence in this nation, I am buying into the very oppression that seeks to conquer my sense of self, separating me from the legacy my hard working parents and ancestors planted in this nation.
And that’s what I’m talking about… See the level of self-awareness I have to carry around because of the injustice that still pervades the justice system? I go from being “a dude” to a “black dude” who has to worry about what everyone else is afraid of, because I am black. Not “happens to be black”, as George Carlin would say; but BLACK as both my parents are in fact, BLACK. However, while I acknowledge that, I feel a little defiant. But why should a fact be defiant? Why should I have trouble owning up to an element in my being which is a problem mainly to non-blacks and unenlightened descendants of Blacks. A fact which is of no true genetic disadvantage. Why should I feel defiant as a law-abiding citizen? What sort of reverse psychology is that? These are the mental daemons that haunt my inner peace. Highly inflamed by what I perceive to be an unjust verdict. A verdict that shows a contradiction in a society which claims to protect my rights as a citizen, but shows that those rights may not extend to me, exactly.
Fact is, it is on me to feed or bleed this distracting beast. It is also on me to confront the justice system as it is my right to demand better representation in the nation I pay the most taxes to. It is on the justice system to recognize that myself and several other blacks especially those of us who do not make six figures and up are worthwhile citizens too. But look at the energy that will be spent writing letters, drafting propositions, gathering groups, joining marches, screaming our lungs out in the pursuit of justice. What does this do to my actual contribution to society? To be put in a situation where I seem to be in social and psychological repair as opposed to being seen in full participation? What does this do to all the black lawmakers who along with Elizabeth Warren may be involved in new bills for regulations of Wall Street excesses in the U.S? Has the nation suddenly lost its need for its reprieve from their claws? What does that do for the black pastors who – up until the verdict uproar – were preaching LOVE THY NEIGHBOR? Do they cease this doctrine at the expense of Christian conscience? What does this do for the black pianist at Juilliard or Curtis who was creating the next great virtuoso performance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge or Beethoven? Are his instructors going to give him a day off for “black anger”? What does that do for black biologists and chemists involved in stem cell research? How is it important for all those cancer patients and transplant hopefuls? How does that help black teachers who are looking to improve conditions for students in their multi-racial classrooms? What does this do for the film studio or production company looking to hire a Black leading couple in a romantic comedy? What does this do for the Black astrophysicist who is furthering our understanding of Quantum Theory in the Universe? What does that do for a black president who has to face growing international criticism in the face growing terrorism threats and rising economic rivals?
Do we exclude ourselves from the main narrative? Because as you can tell, we are already an intrinsic part of the constructive fabric of society at almost every level in every class politically and economically. Why the need to be pasted against a proverbial glass for racial analysis or ethnic roll call? What is it in our society that makes Zimmerman so empowered that he feels calling a black person a derogatory name, gun in hand, is the first step in solving larceny. What is it in our society that makes us celebrate a black president who has practised more or less the same things economically and politically as the Republican administration which preceded him? Why was he the first American president to receive a Nobel Peace Prize during his first term in office? Does race, with a black person, always have to be their DOWNFALL or their SAVING GRACE? Can being black just be left as a FACT and nothing more? This should not be mistaken with the concept of post-racial or non-racial society which is an abominable term which only validates the view that once race is involved the superiority of some over others shall never be arguable so let’s pretend races don’t exist instead of saying, ALL RACES OF PEOPLE ARE EQUAL IN THE EYES OF THE LAW. PERIOD.
AND while I believe the fight being equal in the eyes of the law is worthwhile, but we must be able to agree on what equal is. Instead of fighting against STAND YOUR GROUND. Fight to revoke cases where the blacks were wrongly convicted and overturn the cases where non-blacks were wrongfully vindicated. Instead of fighting for gun ownership to go down, seek more BLACK representation in the National Rifle Association. Everything that seems to be made to fight blacks, let blacks, by law make these applicable for them to defend themselves. I don’t believe in too many people having guns because idiots with guns can do a lot of damage but instead of worrying about too many racist non-blacks with guns, let every reasonable black person who feels their lives may be threatened by racists in their immediate surrounding, get their hands on one where self-defense laws apply. That is EQUALITY in the eyes of the law.
But anyone with common sense can see how the above can cause some areas in the United States to devolve into annihilation mode so for the most part, activists are fighting for a better humanity and they should. But is the law in favor of a better humanity or was it meant to serve the most ruthless of our species, at the expense of our most forgiving?
All the while, Black Progress Must Continue.
Jude Anchang is a playwright/actor/director based in Los Angeles,CA