There is nothing more irresponsible or inflammatory than placing the burden of remedying the racism and structural inequality on which the United States was built squarely at the feet of the marginalized.
I, too, would have been heartened to see the Clippers sit out of their Saturday night play off game. But their choice to stage a silent protest and play is not a disappointment to me nor does it make them “slaves” as Tavis Smiley suggested. It makes them human–as most of us are.
Even when we are exploited and degraded, Black people are not ever allowed the space to be human. If, for a moment, we are conflicted or confused about how to navigate systems designed to disempower and divide, surely our character will be called into question by “revolutionaries” who would sooner berate us for failing to display exceptional feats of courage than demand the same of the white racists who wield power.
Marginalized people choosing to protect our safety, security, and self-interest are not cowards. We make these decisions not because we are lazy but because we lack the safety nets that cultivate audacity. We know that the playing field is not level, and the rules could change at any moment.
The self-righteousness with which so many talk about the Clippers decision befuddles me because most of us would have done the same or less, yet we expect these men to perform the heavy lifting that we, ourselves, refuse to do.
Recognizing risk and choosing to survive is not cowardice.
I’m tired of ahistorical arguments about a Heroic Black Past. My deep appreciation for the sacrifices of my foremothers and forefathers does not prevent me from understanding that most went to work everyday to pay their debts and care for their families. A great many did not march, sit-in, revolt, or rebel. I’ve long heard stories of black men averting their eyes as whites passed because they wanted to stay alive. They were not cowards. They chose to survive.
I’m tired of of presumptions about the apathy of young, Black people. Black Millennials, strapped with the largest debt load in history for acquiring the education everyone told us would be the ticket to freedom, understand that risk is real. We know that if we quit our jobs, or even if we die, Sallie Mae will continue to pursue our parents’ already depleted retirementfunds for restitution.
Most of us do what we feel we can afford to do. I am grateful for the heroes — the Fannies, Rosa and Ellas just as I am grateful for my mother and | KEEP READING