The inevitability of death is second to “black anger” among the people of American society. Here, we cannot show frustration, distraughtness, bewilderment or rage. As long as we are stuck in a cage, they hold us morally responsible at a young age—when we’re in a black hoodie, off to the convenience store. Or, in Oregon, when we’re fleeing from a local 7-eleven to escape White supremacists in an SUV attempting to mow our Black bodies down. Or, panicky to the inescapability of a White man who dementedly ran a red light, pushing us off the intersection to destroy our Black bodies. Or, when our Black bodies are misgendered, murdered and invalidated of our gender identities, when our Black bodies are ruled dead by our own Black hands. But, it was heteronormative white supremacist patriarchy and systemic racism in American society that truly destroyed our Black bodies.
And, when you ask why our bodies are destroyed, we explain why, but you dismiss us, and choose to see us in the same deleterious auras that destroyed our Black bodies. You tell us to be calm; you implicate that we must forget all that has happened to Black life, and be the best that we can be, but the lot of our Black selves do not know what ‘being the best’ means when we are conditioned to feel less human. You consider our bodies weapons before we show our feelings, our ongoing pain, our Black suffering, and it shows that you do not care to know us layer by layer.
You perceive us as weapons, but why not deconstruct them, throw away the bullets and see what’s inside, how far we can be cocked back, loaded, until we release the ammunition? Or consider yourself pacifying to the flux of violence Whites impose on society. Their actions are excused while we continue to be demons in a gentrified city street somewhere in Manhattan, demons in a White-washed classroom in Monroe Woodbury High School, who can’t speak legibly because they are not White, demons who graduate from Harvard, or Potsdam University, and are still demons shone on through by the same deleterious aura.
And the demonic vilification of our Black bodies stops when we ain’t bein’ niggas, so-called “defiant,” and extremists when we, as Malcolm X put it, try to humanize and defend ourselves. Death, is an unsettling, but volitional or involuntary self-suspension of vitality, a pressing part of life, an inevitability that many of you and Black me find it difficult to come face to face with first hand, some who are indifferent to it, leaving it to dwindle in the back of their heads as if death does not exist, and others who accept death as it is, but “black anger” is contrary to this inevitability; for you to die, you are loved for how great you could have been.
Humans naturally lament over whoever dies, whether they knew them or not. Those who have thought of dying, are urged to live. The Black bodies who think death do not want to die, and a lot of us do not want to be subject to the experience of living in this Republic called America.
Be it a Black body that wants to stand on its own two feet or not, Black suffering and Black death emit a dragging melancholy, but the Black bodies are still considered “weak” when they end their lives. Suicide is more so “weak” when it is committed by Black people, seeing that, to the White society, we cannot have feelings. We are supposed super-humans in this regard. This “weakness” is often viewed through the White patriarchal lens. Black men are deemed “effeminate” for not being “manly” enough to assert their will to live. Black women are also seen from this lens, and their suicides go unaccounted for.
In the Black LGBTQIA community, suicide rates are irrefutably high, but they continue to go unnoticed. But Black suicide is not immoral. It is not evil, unholy, or impure of us to destroy our own Black bodies in an Earth that has long been corroded by White supremacy.
It is not evil for us to feel fatalistic in a world where White people have created systems that have made us feel that existence is pain. It is the illusion of Whiteness, American citizens who proclaim themselves under the illusion of being White, American society and the world, which cannot fathom a melanated human with a darker skin tone being in the same existential, intellectual, and economic plane as them.
Death is perhaps a comforter that helps humans, as a whole, to understand the human condition, while “black anger” is seen like a drooping virus, an intrusive fire alarm, which sounds with such incessant dissonance that they cannot bear to hear its screeching for too long.
about the author
Patrick Jonathan Derilus writes poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction essays. His work has appeared in The Voices Project, Scrittura Magazine: Issue 6, Cutlines Press Magazine, and Stonesthrow Review journal of New Paltz (2015). In October 2016, he self-published a book entitled Thriving Fire: Musings of A Poet’s Odyssey.