I look at it and cuss.
There are few human beings on the planet who enjoy receiving an injection with a needle. My sister—a grown-ass-woman who pushed babies out of her body and once fought a mugger who was armed with a kitchen knife — still gets anxiety attacks every time a doctor or nurse gives her a shot. I hate it too. But, instead of looking away, I look directly at the needle as it goes into my arm with the full knowledge that it will, at the very least, sting a little bit.
I learned that technique from Maceo, my saved and sanctified youth boxing coach who, through repetition, disabused me of the habit of closing my eyes when I take a punch by allowing me to use profanity in his presence.
“It’s going to sting a little bit,” he would say, echoing the advice of my childhood pediatrician. “Just look at it and cuss.”
Aside from Maceo’s technique, I have tried every imaginable method of acclimating myself to punches. But, try as I might, I could never get used to being hit. So, when someone throws a fist at me, I instinctively spread my feet a little wider than the with of my shoulders, brace myself for impact, turn away from the punch and try to absorb the blow. My eyes are always wide open when I am socked in the face
I am a terrible boxer.
But I can cuss like a motherfucker.
America hates us.
The bruising disdain that this country has for us is a gut-punch that we have absorbed time and time again. Even real-life magical negroes like Tim Scott and Daniel Cameron must pretend white supremacy doesn’t exist by euphemizing racism as “outcomes,” misspeaking or “simply trying to do my job.”
I was reminded of this lesson as I watched the coverage of the 2020 election into the wee hours of the morning. Even though Joe Biden will probably emerge as the victor, the results of Tuesday’s exercise in democracy was a reminder of the shared contempt America has for its Black citizens.
And it’s not a white thing.
It’s an American thing.
In a country so divided by politics, religion and grits seasoning, perhaps this nation’s one unifying sentiment is its capacity to not give a fuck about Black people. Our national antipathy toward one race of people extends across economic, political and social strata. Muslims, Hispanics, Asians, poor Southern rednecks, rich white Northeasterners, educated liberals, low-information conservatives all receive varying doses of the unending supply of anti-Blackness. It is America’s greatest domestic product.
Of course, some of these people will dismiss this criticism by oversimplifying the argument. They will disingenuously perpetuate the reductive narrative that I’m saying: “Everyone who voted for Trump is racist.”
No, that’s not what I’m saying.
I’m saying that Donald Trump is racist.
At every instance, Trump has proven his anti-Black bona fide. White supremacists openly embrace him and he repeatedly returns the favor. He has insulted majority-Black countries. He has vilified Black protesters as terrorists and praised people who kill them. He outlawed anti-racist training; appointed two attorneys general who are openly antagonistic toward civil rights and filled his administration with people who are widely considered to be irredeemable racists, including an actual Nazi.
Sure, I understand that most Americans think they can make better choices for their lives than the government. I know there are people who worry about government intrusion. I can accept the fact that rich people want lower taxes and poor people think Republicans are better on economic issues. I know some people are guided by faith.
But if your preference for small government, lower taxes, unborn fetuses, Christianity or economic anxiety leads you to vote for an immoral, lying, corrupt incompetent white nationalist, then, by definition, you care more about these issues than you care about Black people being subjected to the whims of an immoral, lying, corrupt incompetent white nationalist.
Also, anyone who voted for Trump is racist.
Imagine if someone really believed they had the winning lottery ticket and headed to the convenience store cash it in. All of a sudden, the potential lottery winner spotted a Black person in the road obstructing the path to the convenience store. Undeterred, the driver intentionally hit the gas instead of the brakes, killing the Black person but securing their ticket to the jackpot.
Whiteness is that jackpot
The people who voted for Trump don’t hate Black people. They simply care more about the possibility of their lottery winnings than they care about living, breathing human beings. And yes, the fault lies in the fact that these people live in a capitalist society where Black lives are worth less than the possibility of the economic and social windfall that whiteness offers.
But it doesn’t erase the fact that they reduced a Black body to a slightly inconvenient speed bump.
And trust me, I know how the lottery works. The Irish became white by assimilating into America’s civil corp and joining in on Black oppression. The regularly recurring nativist movements allowed Italians, Jews and even Catholics to win the white Powerball.
And, again every Black person in America knows that the path to becoming a real American is directly through Black bodies. We assume there will be voter suppression, purges, dog whistles and disregard for our issues every election day. The whole reason we show up at the polls is that we know that we must extend our arms and sacrifice our blood for the sake of our future health. And even after we cast our ballots, we brace ourselves, eyes wide open, fully expecting America to punch us in our black-ass faces.
We can fight like a motherfucker.
But goddamn, will this shit ever stop stinging?