Policing Black Pain
I remember the first protest that I was ever at. I was there to help out with security. The plan was to be done at a certain time. When we came to that preset ending time, I was set to help clear the area. However, that’s not how it went, but it provided me an opportunity to learn and challenge my own racism.
At the time we were supposed to end, a Black woman got up and said, “We aren’t going anywhere, we will leave on our own time!”
My initial internal reaction was to kindly ask her and the rest of the protestors to leave. I wanted to make sure the area was safe for everyone. Then I stopped and had to check myself immediately.
My first instinct was to police Black pain.
I told myself that I was just trying to help keep everyone safe by asking folks to leave. Then I realized fighting injustice in that particular moment was way bigger than my white comfortability. It hit home for me that white folks have been policing Black pain for centuries.
I decided to stay silent and learn. I made a choice to put aside my white feelings and do my best to honor and protect the Black voices that still needed to be heard. I had to tell myself that, if things went down, then it was my responsibility to step in and put myself on the line.
Even in the midst of a demonstration against racial injustices, my white supremacy told me that I had to center myself amongst the expressions of Black pain.
These roots run so deep. It’s never the place of white folks to police Black pain, yet it is often our first reaction. We can so quickly become further tools of oppression while convincing ourselves that we are helping.
We have to recognize it and do better.