11 December 2014

Anxiety and Blackness

I haven't written in this for quite awhile: it's not because of a lack of things to write about as much as a lack of energy to put to pen the concepts that run wild in my mind. But with all the issues going on in the world: the CIA and the Torture report is something I could spend days writing about and never run out of ideas. There is without question an deep investigation on the purposes, legitimate and otherwise, of rectal rehydration (pun totally intended). But today I'm going to talk about something: anxiety.

I'm a pretty mellow person. Sure, I have topics of intensity, as we all do, but in general, the amount of fucks to give about whats going on with things is generally somewhere between zero and needing to borrow some fucks to get back to zero. I also have painstakingly low expectations of people in general, and am pessimistic of the operations of the state with respect to people of color in general, and Black people in particular. It's the reason why, when the Michael Brown debacle came about, I was bothered but unmoved by the "I support Darren Wilson" t-shirts then as I am currently unbothered by the bars in Missouri that offer the Michael Brown drink special. Not because these things aren't disturbing at best and hate-filled racism at worst, but because when you have low expectations of people, it's hard for them to be exceeded in the "bad" direction. So even as these issues are happening: Brown being shot in the street in August, Garner being choked the phuck out in July, I was something- but it wasn't shocked or amazed. 

Despite how this may sound, I always find it interesting to wee when white people get a small glimpse into the word of "justice" and "democracy" that Black people see all the time. Eric Garner was a better example, because without video, the presumption against Black skin never garners a fair and equitable response. Hell, even when there IS video, people will come up with some reason for it's justification. "Well, if Michael Brown hadn't stolen those cigarillo papers," or "If he'd just gotten out of the street when the cop asked he'd be alive today," or "If Eric Garner hadn't resisted arrest, he'd be alive today." I call bullshit on all of those. All those actions mean is that, maybe, just maybe, they'd not have been killed BY THAT COP AT THAT TIME, MAYBE. It's not like being innocent is a legitimate mechanism for safety, as Daniel Holdsclaw (no relation to Chamique Holdsclaw ironically) should be a fine example of why you can't trust a cop, even one that isn't choking the shit out of you or shooting you in the street. Our interactions with the police have always been confrontational at best and deadly at worst. For good portions of our history, the police that should protect us and the Klan racist that were trying to kill us were the same people. It's hard to call the cops to protect you when you know the call will be answered by the Klansman you're calling the cops to protect you from. Now while I know it's not 1918, 1939, or 1957 all times when these things would have been public and nobody in power would have cared, we now have "laws" and "policies" that should prevent these types of things happening. But let's not kid ourselves, we all know those laws and policies, like really all laws and policies, almost never HELP people of color, especially when their necessities come into conflict with those of the dominant and/or power structures (in case you didn't know- laws are crafted to benefit the people who craft the laws most- you want the laws to have your back- write them- you think it's a mistake that in a country that originally only extended rights to white men that the rights of women and people of color have always lagged behind? did you think that was a coincidence, as opposed to systemic? here's a clue- when negative implications hit a specific part of the population despite there being rules/laws in place to protect these people and they still they find themselves disproportionally effected, it's the system).

As I write all this, I realize this was initially about anxiety, so I should actually write about that. As I said earlier, I'm pretty mellow, but recently, I've had battles with anxiety. It's not an issue when I'm at work, or spending time with the kids on my team, or even when I'm at home with my wife. The times I'm my most anxious are 1) when I'm in my car and 2) when I'm home alone. Now these are actually quite odd times to be anxious for me. Usually my anxiety is more driven by being around "people" especially people I don't know. But recently, it's been driven by my solitude. I've spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out exactly what it is that's been getting to me. When I went to my therapist about it, he had very little to offer me, but asked me to think back and see if i could remember the first time that my anxiety was caused not by crowds, but by being by myself (and yes, I realize that if I'm anxious alone and with people, I'd always be anxious- other people don't make me anxious anymore, but I am still particularly annoyed by them, which I don't think is better, rather just different). So I sat around and replayed my mental rolodex, pressing rewind on my memory to get to the point where I found that something different was driving my anxiety- and I found the date:
July 14th, 2013. 

The date that George Zimmerman was acquitted. And as I thought about it, here's what ran through my mind: man, if a 17 year old with a bag of Skittles and an Iced Tea can be shot and killed with no recourse, what's the world coming to. At the time this in in the backdrop of Jordan Davis, the Black boy who was killed by a man for having his music play too loud at a store (a trial you may remember- as Michael Dunn was convicted, but not for the murder of Jordon Davis, but for the Attempted Murder of the three others who were in the car when he shot the car- which seems to ask the question of whether black lives matter or not). I had a couple of anxiety attacks but I think they were more tied to tension about an inevitable trip I was going to have to take to Florida. But I figured as long as I didn't have to be there I would be fine. But as the acts continue to pile up: Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner. And I begin to do even more research I come across Kajieme Brown, and John Crawford and Victor White and realize that my safety is not guaranteed, but that any, and I mean ANY interaction I have with the cops could lead to my death. And it occurred to me that my anxiety involves times when I either a) have to deal with cops alone or b) leads to a possible scenario where I may have to interact with the police with no alibi. 

This may seem like straight paranoia to you, but to a guy that's been pulled over by the police on 70 occasions, that has had his car searched by cops in 11 different jurisdiction and has had a gun pulled on me while driving a school van, my cop paranoia was already on Code Orange. [Note: if any of you all think this is odd, I'll ask if any of you give a specific play-by-play of EVERY action you make in front of an officer BEFORE you do it- if your answer's no, it's because YOU DON'T HAVE TO. My parents told me about that when I was training for my license, but I didn't really believe them: until the day I got pulled over and reached to my back pocket for my drivers license when i realized that one officer was yelling for me to stop moving while the other POINTED HIS PISTOL THROUGH THE FRONT WINDOW. The look in his eyes was one that I've seen multiple times, but one I never expected to see in a guy holding a gun on me: fear. He seemed legitimately concerned that I was reaching for a weapon (despite being told to give him my license and registration- aside: seems way more likely i'd have a gun in the glove compartment rather than in my pocket, not tryin to go out like Plax Burris, who ironically served time for shooting himself). I've found myself interacting with the police more than most (when you live in a neighborhood where not many blacks live, they assume you don't "belong" there and are quick to question your motives/reasoning for being there, rather than "it's America and we have freedom of movement" being a sufficient response) and as i do more research, i realize that any of those times I've been pulled over, and during more traffic stops than i care to think about, I came at cops in very similar language to that used by Eric Garner, you've been messing with me for too long- this stops now. I've threatened cops with legal suits and just browbeat them for unauthorized stops- realizing that at any time they could have just said "let's kill this nigger" and that would have been it. Or that if a crime happened and they looked like me, that saying "I was at home alone" would mean nothing to them, and probably is fodder for my inevitable charge. 

So when it was all said and done. I figured out what was the cause of my anxiety: Being Black in America and knowing that, when it's all said and done, that the system is no real protection for me, as the only time it seems to work at it's best it to put us away, and it seems to work in exactly as ineffective and inefficient way when it needs to protect me.

So I guess one of the gifts of blackness is anxiety and fear over The State perpetuating violence against me. 

It's like the Klan changed to Blue Uniforms.

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