“Oh, come on, it’s not like that,” said a friend to me my first semester of college. I didn’t want to get out of the car in this rural Missouri town. In my mind I could hear that creepy banjo twang from Deliverance; and the scenery looked just like the town from Children of the Corn.
She didn’t understand my uneasiness though. She was a white woman. She was free to go wherever she pleased; if she went missing the media would coddle her and Lifetime would make a movie about how precious she was. If I went missing, they’d probably dig into my files and find out how much trouble I got into in high school; I probably did something dumb to deserve it. Because whites are victims of crimes, but Blacks are inherently bad.
Being Black in America isn’t something whites will ever understand. Some will sympathize, but most will try hard to convince you that it’s all in your head. They’ll preach about black-on-black crime as if white people don’t kill each other. They will tell you that our president is Black, so it’s all equality, all the time. They’ll call you divisive, angry, polarizing. Their bubble of white privilege is all encompassing; they can’t hear the anguish and the cries from us.
But they’ll never understand. They won’t know what it’s like to have their child murdered in broad daylight just for the media to slander him. They won’t hear that twinge of fear in their mother’s voice when she says “Be careful!” to her son when he’s leaving the house because she knows that Blackness is a crime. They won’t know what it’s like to be worth so little, that there won’t even be a trial for the white man that killed you.