public space

When Insecurity Equals Death

When one mass shooting is barely acknowledged, it seems another one appears, and we are all forced to reckon with a rise in violence. Inequality is one reason as people despair of ever having either enough or more, depending on their circumstances, and attack those they feel responsible for their circumstances. Being murdered by friends is becoming commonplace, along with the rise in domestic violence. There are many who are confused and frantic as they see an enormous shift in what they consider “normal.” During this February, it is important to understand this vital point: welcome to what it means to be Black in public spaces.

First and foremost, we are never welcomed into any non-Black space without people feeling entitled to surveil our every move based on heightened insecurity. It is interesting that the federal government chose Juneteenth to be a national holiday when in Austin, police surveillance was amped up and non-Black residents felt entitled to harass the Black community who dared to take one day for themselves. The “Karen” movement could be summarized as the weaponization of whiteness permitting itself to attempt murder against those who “seem to be out of place.” Black people could have told anyone centuries ago–for those in Tulsa, an actual century ago–that simply being in public spaces was grounds for murder. Mass shootings take a different perspective when one considers that lynching can occur over a possible counterfeit bill if one finds us “threatening enough.”

Whether people can tell or not, we are constantly walking on eggshells because it is never actually clear why people have decided that we have made them insecure. We all know that if we ever apply for jobs that are above our station, we will be ridiculed for our audacity; heaven help us if we actually attain the job or promotion. Any success at a non-Black school is seen as a fluke or anomaly, and non-Black people are permitted to harass any Black student who dared to think of ourselves as inherent equals to people other than “our own kind.” People love to mock Black people for not knowing how to participate in elite sports; turns out, people are rather hostile to any progress that we might make in those arenas and are very upfront about it.

One reason why cultural appropriation is offensive is that there is no recognition that Black people are unsafe in public because of the global insecurity of non-Black people. After all, we only came into existence as “Black” people so that others could exploit both us and our natural resources. Gun control laws are irrelevant because law is determined by whether people have means, not whether antisocial behavior has actually occurred. Insecurity might be a mental health disorder, but as far as we are concerned, the only “mental health disorder” is a trait of entitlement to murder that has persisted throughout the existence of this country.

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