I’m Black, and I’d rather RIP Robin Williams

I am quite done with Black people complaining that too many Black people are RIP-ing Robin Williams, but not saying anything about Mike Brown. One doesn’t have anything to do with the other. I am sad the man took his life. He brought joy, laughter, and thought-provoking emotion to me…a ton of it. He shared his craft, his gift with the world—and unbeknownst to us, all while hiding his own pain. What it takes to live with depression, and give yourself to the world despite that, is extraordinary. Besides, I am sad when ANYONE ends their own life. Exercising compassion does not detract from my “Blackness”. It’s me being HUMAN.

 

Meanwhile, I am not sad about Mike Brown.

 

I am ANGRY. Really fucking angry.

 

I’m a talker by nature. I accept the ‘know-it-all’ tag that has been given to me all my life. Between my FB ‘randoms’ and occasional soap-boxes, I always have something to say.

 

But when I am angry, I stop talking.

 

I am so angry that it is emotionally easier for me to RIP Robin Williams on Facebook, than it is to even figure out what to say about Mike Brown. This ain’t the first, third, tenth, or last time we gonna have a Mike Brown story. I have done everything that has ever been done—protested, wore a hoodie, wore Black all day in solidarity (even though I was thousands of miles away), changed my profile pic to a solid color, signed petitions, donated funds, written congresspeople, registered us to vote, marched in the street, talked to drug dealers on corners, organized community meetings, facilitated community crisis efforts….you name it. I’ve ACTUALLY done it. And guess what? INJUSTICE STILL HAPPENS. And it will still happen because injustice is interwoven into the fabric of America. There is no escaping it or changing it. There is only ACCEPTING it.

When I’m angry, I stop talking. But don’t mistake my silence for apathy. I’m pondering critically, questioning, and brainstorming.   I’m being careful not to turn into a “I hate all white people” type because I was born in a country founded on deception, oppression, and just plain ol’ crookedness. I’m frustrated because we stir up dust, only for it to clear to the same scenario, and it never works. I’m over it not working. I’m over the limelight whores who capitalize on the grieving mother, or the Jesses and the Als, whose antiquated tactics no longer work for a social media society and a community of consumption like ours. I am scared to have a Black baby in America, and I don’t want to feel that, which conflicts with my personal desire to be a mother, and it feels horrible. It overwhelms me to feel that my nephew could be next and he is only 10. I am conflicted by the fact that my passionate pro-Blackness is jaded daily and creates a desire in me to fuck it all, leave it here and just move to another country. Photoshopping some angel wings on Mike Brown and blasting it around social media has never, nor will it ever, keep a police officer from taking his authority, salting it with bigotry, and sprinkling dead Black kids all over the country, so I will not ‘share’, ‘like’ or ‘tweet’ that.  And that does not bring “awareness”…we all already know.   This mixed bag of complex layers of several emotions has so far led to us attacking each other, further community disconnectedness, and in Ferguson, Missouri, riot gear and more death.

So because I’m angry, I stopped talking. I recognized my rage and I stepped back because emotions are irrational. Emotions will have you doing and saying and believing, and maybe even regretting. And we all express them whatever way we know how. “Hood” people are looting and tearing up shit in their own neighborhood. “Educated” people are protesting in the streets. “Broadway” people are doing conscious poetry in front of police stations. “Conscious” people are projecting their anger on anyone whose response isn’t pro-Black-enough. Non-black supporters are doing what they can without really understanding the depth of the pain, the internalized oppression, and the daily anxiety involved. Other people are ignoring it because indifference is easier. And everybody is recording it on their cell phones and posting it to YouTube.

 

We all in our feelings. And that is HUMAN.

 

So I will not apologize for being moved that a white man killed himself. He was not all white men. He certainly wasn’t the police officer that gunned down Mike Brown. I’m responsible for my emotions, and I refuse to project my rage anywhere but somewhere productive and strategic. And today, I don’t know yet where that is. I just know I’m angry.

And I’m not talking. Don’t judge me.

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32 thoughts on “I’m Black, and I’d rather RIP Robin Williams

  1. I am not accepting anything. I never have. We did not march, protest, go to jail and, in some cases, die so folk could whine on the internet. Stop waiting for somebody to fix it. The man said you are somebody. Act like it. Organize. It works.

    • The acceptance that I speak of pertains to understanding the society that we live in. America is a capitalist society; therefore, there will always be haves, have nots, and a structure where power, racial, and economic disparities exist. In my opinion, that won’t change until our social structure changes (which I doubt will happen). I agree that folk died, and protested, and marched for a reason. I agree…we need to act like we are somebody, we need to organize, and all of those things. But organize to do what? To get society to change? Or to get Black people to change? What is the goal?

      Thank you for your comments and the discussion.

  2. Amanda,
    Thank you for your post, I also felt your passion and anger coming through like you had lept forth from the page. Your words helped me recognize feelings I had not put into perspective yet. Well done,
    Another Lisa T

  3. i dont agree… alot can happen when people mobilize the civil rights era should be proof hell the American revolution should be proof, the point is we may not see direct change in our lifetime but something will change if we are loud enough, if we are strong enough and if we are large enough. The real problem is consistency we live in a microwave generation, trending one day and out of the headlines the next. yes we live in a capitalistic society but someone CREATED this society it didn’t appear out of thin air. We have more power than we could ever imagine we just cant see past the powers that be, someone once said “the worst thing is watching someone drown and not being able to convince them that they can save themselves by just standing up” we have the answers as a collective we just have to come together as a collective and be consistent thats what we are missing the answer is not to just be quiet not to just give up but to stay our course because even if it doesn’t change anything at least you tried and that can touch much more lives than just being quiet

    • Thanks for your comments Bebe. I know my reaponse is a bit tardy…I had to step back from it all for a second. I literally just said today that we have a “microwave generation”. I have a question…what should we be working to change?

  4. I disagree…I think it shows just how out of touch we are with the state of the Black community and how celebrities have a profound impact on our lives. Prior to Robin Williams killing himself, not one person spoke of him, not one that I could see on FB or even verbally. He wasn’t even a remote thought. Meanwhile, practically everyday Black men/boys are being murdered and killing each other to the extent of an urban pandemic. At some point we must take care of our own and protect and raise the village.

  5. Reblogged this on yesblackcouplescan and commented:
    This is some true shit. We don’t know all the details of either the Mike Brown incident or the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. But we do know that mental health needs to be taken more seriously in our society, and that cops are not or ever should they be above the LAW!

  6. I was sorta with you, as i was one of those people who thought the silence regarding Mike Brown and then the sudden uproar of emotion regarding Robin Williams was appalling, but then you said that you accept the injustices going on in society and i checked out. Even after you tried to further explain what you meant, i can’t get down with that. There have been 3 murders by police within 2 weeks. All black men, all unarmed. How can that be acceptable on any level. As a black man whose been racially profiled, as a black father living in a white neighborhood these situations trouble and scare me. The looting was ignorant emotional response but since then its been 3 days of peaceful protests met with overt police force. Stop putting people in a box with the terms “hood” and “educated” because its just people out there…not accepting what happened. Trying to force accountability and change. By and large i think the criticisms from the “pro black” people are just people upset that you care more for this man taking his own life, which is sad, than this boy who had had his life taken, which is both infuriating and sad.

    • Jason, I think you are misinterpreting my words. I don’t care more about Robin Williams; all he gets is a RIP on FB, which in the grand scheme of things, means nothing. I care SO MUCH about black kids being murdered in the street-by police and by each other-that it deserves more than a repost of a news article about it. It deserves actual strategic answer and not just an emotional response that once you calm down, business as usual resumes. I did not say I accept injustice; I accept that America is racist and will always be. That is a fact. I am also not suggesting that anyone’s efforts towards equality and justice should not be done. My use of quotation marks around the words “hood”, “educated”, etc. is an indication that is what others call these particular segments of people…not me “boxing” them in. I hear your points loud and clear, and I appreciate you sharing them. The question I have for you is–what do we do that actually works?

  7. Amanda Renae: Very well said. Expressing condolences for Robin Williams has nothing to do with black on black murder. Yes that is an extremely sad and deplorable situation. Irony of it is many of these youth, young and older black men are suffering from the same illness, silently. The police is most urban areas are definitely out of control and trigger happy. This has been the case throughout the history of this nation and will continue to be as long as it is acceptable and we riot to express our disgust. Even with our African American President Barack Obama, whom i love, there is a tone of be patient and quiet, don’t ruffle feathers. How long, my brother, how long?

  8. “I am conflicted by the fact that my passionate pro-Blackness is jaded daily and creates a desire in me to fuck it all, leave it here and just move to another country.” If you have a valuable skill and an opportunity, it actually is the answer. I am now living abroad, and I can honestly that even though the people here have some racist ideas from TV and brainwashing, they do not have a concept of race-based hatred, AND they are much more corrigible about their views when you see the brainwashing and call them on it.

  9. This is just such a lucid and well articulated piece. Its really humbling, in how rich it is, and the way you capture the process of consciousness and its polarities, crystalizing into an action. Thank you for sharing.

  10. “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it”. Zora Neale Hurston. Rage, scream, kick. Do one or all but don’t go quietly about all this. You say doing something won’t help but I’ll argue that doing NOTHING hurts us more.

  11. There’s black on black crime (and i hate that term) just as white on white crime, and we cannot ignore the fact that there are people doing the work trying to combat crime in our communities. All the community leaders and organizers aren’t just fighting for better schools, resources and better programs just because they are bored, some of it is to reduce crime and end mass incarceration. So when we say black people don’t care about black on black crime it’s false…and whose fault is it that blacks don’t trust the police in regards to “snitching “? Also you cannot compare civil crime to state sponsored violence because they are different, I’m not paying taxes to criminals to protect me.

    • Points all well taken, Nana. If the way I presented my thoughts seemed like a comparison, that is unintended. Iyanla Vanzant recorded a video message recently in response to Ferguson that essentially said it is her generation’s fault that our community is in this state….because they failed to nuture and teach their children how to navigate America. IMHO, I agree, but don’t want to stay at finger-pointing; one can only give from what resources they have. I believe, in general, our community is apathetic about civil crime because it is so painful and heavy that we just emotionally disconnect. I get it. No judgement. I agree…I also am not paying taxes for criminals to protect me. Thanks for the discussion.

  12. I think I understand what you are saying. I’m kinda bit the same way. Metaphorically, I compare it to having a series of emails to respond to when you first arrive to work. You look at the subjects and see which one you can handle first. Then, you read the rest holistically. The ones that are easier to complete you get that out the way. In the meantime, you are cooking up your master plan on how to address the important issue.

    Things that are complex and hard to understand takes time. Furthermore, it takes more than 1 person to make a change. Moreover, it takes a group 0f like-minded folk to make a change.

    I believe in the quote, “Mediocre minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, great minds discuss ideas.” We are circling ourselves around the unarmed Black men that have died, or the protests and events that happened. But no one is willing to admit that this issue is very complex and we need ideas and strategies to shift the social culture of our society.

    I know one thing, as a guy who believes action, it’s essential to think before making moves. Strategic moves. If you just act recklessly, you at most times, get reckless results.

    I honor your post and it was very in depth and straightforward.

  13. Stop drinking the kool-aid the media is pouring up for you. Blacks do care about who gets killed in their neighborhood. They do have rally’s, they do protest but you won’t see it on the evening news nor on the main stream news stations. Why, because it doesn’t get ratings. The only way you would know about it is if you stayed in that community. And as far as the no snitching goes people want to talk but they know as soon as the police and state get their conviction they will leave them hi and dry to the same wolfs that did the killing. Don’t talk unless you’ve lived in an area where there no parks to play at, no after school programs for kids, where you can get drugs quicker than you can get an education, where the schools have no funding and the teachers don’t give a shit, No jobs but a liquor store on every corner and when the police see you the only thing they see is a criminal. As long as your on the outside looking in you don’t know shit. I don’t give a fuck if you are black. Untill you’ve live it you will never understand it.

  14. Hate to sound insensitive (really don’t care either way if I’m being insensitive) but Robin Williams killed himself. Suicide is terrible, and depression in most cases will lead a person to taking his or her own life, but at the end of it all its still suicide. I can only get so sad about it, and then I think “well he did kill himself” and then my sadness turns to careless. He killed himself, left all his close friends and family and fan to morn, wondering why. Michael Brown didn’t have that option, he was murdered. So yes, it’s not the same, Robin taking his life and Michael being gunned down, but the sad reality is, Michael didn’t want to die and Robin did. Therefore, my remorse will be greater for the family of Michael Brown. Sorry Robin Williams is gone also, but he did make it that way.

  15. Pingback: Posting about Michael Brown and Robin Williams | Comments From The Peanut Gallery

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