A Love Letter to Black Folk Who Are Struggling After the Buffalo Massacre
The following article contains details about the Buffalo mass shooting that took place May 14, 2022 that may be triggering.
To the Black folk who can’t turn on the news without being reminded of how little the world loves them…
I know it hurts.You don’t have to tell or convince me. You don’t have to fight to be seen or heard here. This space is an eternal moment where as long as you’re on this page, you can set down the hundreds of years of baggage and trauma that’s been non-consensually passed down from parent to child throughout the generations. You don’t have to make a joke out of the reality of living with your existence as a means of coping. Here you don’t have to be resilient. Right now, in this second, you can just breathe and be, allowing yourself to sit with the grief, weight, and trauma that can come with being a child of the African diaspora.
It never seems to end, does it?
You think back to all the years that our parents, their parents, and the ones who came before them fought tooth and nail to afford us the rights and lives we have today. I’m sitting here writing this story today because my ancestors decided to keep going, living, and loving even when the oppressors around them did everything in their power to stop that. I’m a writer and an avid reader, something my ancestors were held back from and condemned for doing. They had the hope and optimism to keep going through every new law that came and went, dictating how we were allowed to live, love, shop, dance, look — the list goes on. They did all that, and yet still we turn on the TV or log onto social media to see our faces posted in memorandum. We see manifestos circulating with hate and vitriol spewed about our race. To them, our existence in and of itself is a crime punishable by death.
Regardless of what the world may tell you, you are deserving of everything beautiful that that world has to offer you.
With the rates of Black people’s death by suicide skyrocketing, with numerous high profile Black deaths by suicide trending in the news, and in places like California rates doubling for Black youths since 2014, we are already in a mental health crisis for Black Americans. (Source: EdSource story)
Systemic barriers that gate keep opportunity, defund our communities and infrastructures, and promote racial infighting continue to serve as negative contributors to Black folk’s mental health. We leave the house while living with severe anxiety and trauma, knowing we’re one negative interaction with the law away from meeting our ancestors. We’re trapped in a systemic maze that no matter how far we venture, we’re still stuck in a vicious quagmire with no real end in sight. That’s our reality, as much as it pains me to type.
Turn off the TV, put away your phone, and find your center. Beyond that, dare to chase joy and light, even in your darkest moments. Honor those emotions – the fear, anxiety, trauma, and pain that seems to be baked into our DNA, but please don’t let it obscure what you are still owed and entitled to in life.
Regardless of what the world may tell you, you are deserving of everything beautiful that that world has to offer you. Your purpose isn’t to be resilient or strong, it’s simply to exist. It’s to love and be loved, shine brightly, dance, sing, laugh, and feel the grass beneath your feet knowing that you do belong here.
People want us dead. That’s a fact, not an opinion, but those of us that are still here are still here with a life to live. Honor those who are no longer with us and who were forced to leave us before their time by promoting your well-being, putting your mental health first, and carving out those spaces in the world where you can just be you without having to look over your shoulder.
I don’t have to tell you your life matters for it to matter, but I do want to remind you of not just that, but you belong here with us and life has wonderful things in store. Get the help you need, but also remember that.
You’re not alone. You’re loved. If no one else has us, we got us. Never forget that.
Getty image by Delmaine Donson