To that guy who has his panties in a bunch because he "isn't planning on throwing a brick at a cop anytime soon" and is therefore "annoyed that his friends are on Facebook supporting the rioters in Baltimore"... I would like to say: DEAR SIR, PLEASE SIT THE FUCK DOWN.
Now, I don't like to play the role of the "angry negro" all the time. It makes me tired, and it makes life in a white city unpleasant, and, on top of that it's not really who I am. (If you're confused about what I mean by the angry negro, you should go read Baratunde Thurston's How To Be Black. In fact, go read it anyway.)
But, I have my limits. I do not insist that everyone take to the streets. I do not insist that everyone write rage-filled articles or share obligatory NYTimes coverage about the race debate in America. I don't insist that everyone black out their profile pictures. These movements are important, certainly, and they are ways to show solidarity, action and awareness about what is a living nightmare happening in this country... but they aren't required.
So, what is required? How about just don't be a fucking idiot. That is what's required. Don't open your mouth about shit that doesn't apply to you beyond a minor annoyance at your Facebook newsfeed. Because, and I may be wrong... but I feel like you being annoyed by your social media is relatively LOW on the list of priorities right now. It's certainly not the top of my list.
I find that I just don't have time for it.
I had to search today to find this moment from an interview I watched almost a year ago now. It's less of an interview and more a conversation between authors Chimamanda Adichie and Zadie Smith. In response to a question about the relationship between Africans and African-Americans, Chimamanda Adichie says that the ethnic group she most admires in America is African-Americans. She describes how she would read American history and cry, she would say "I don't believe that all of this happened, and I don't believe that a people can come out it with such grace..." which Zadie Smith responds to by saying, "There's so little fury [...] the first time I came to America, I couldn't believe the streets weren't burning."
That moment froze me the first time I heard it. Because in all the time I've lived in America, grown up black in America, somehow I had never looked at history that way. I had read with horror about slavery, about the brutality faced during the civil rights movement, the abominations of Jim Crow, the blatant hypocrisy of "restoration"... but it had never dawned on me the utter miracle it is that there is now any sliver of peace at all. Watching what, at this point, looks like a slow-rolling, state-sanctioned genocide of black people in America, is it any surprise that there are riots and protests?
I mean, according to you, that guy. At what point does the gruesome history of black America justify black Americans being angry? How many people have to die "accidental" deaths at the hands of police? How many kids have to get shot? Just gimme a ballpark. So that we can be sure not to annoy you by coming out in opposition to this shit.
No one asked you to come to the party.
I'm just asking you to sit the fuck down.
"Negroes-- sweet and docile, Meek, humble and kind: Beware the day They change their mind" - Langston Hughes