What’s the Difference? The Last Time A Black Person Should Ever Be Asked That Question

Trigger warning: this blog post speaks on matters of racial injustice. Read responsibly.

The public murder of George Floyd has triggered people of color everywhere. Wait, black people everywhere. I believe in inclusion and diversity as much as the next person but in these cases, it is hard for me to find someone who doesn’t know what life in this skin is like even trying to understand how it feels to see a man who looks like your father or your uncle or your brother get life pressed out of him in the name of justice.
So when I saw people end up on my Twitter feed asking what the difference was between the murder of black men by police and black men killing each other, I was not appalled but so so disheartened. What’s the difference? As if you were speaking of a dog being put down instead of dying in a dog fight…what’s the difference? As if somehow violence among ourselves is inevitable…what’s the difference? As if you want to say “that nigga was gonna die another day anyway so why not today”…what’s the difference?
To even ask that dumbass (I was looking for a tactful way but alas) question, you must have something I do not have – privilege. You have the ability to pretend to be objective about something that is obviously heinous, something that is obviously evil and something that is obviously UNJUST. I can’t feel that way. What you can’t even imagine much less empathize with is the reality of a race of people that live alongside you. What’s the difference? You have freedom. What’s the difference? You have liberty. What’s the difference? Justice. What’s the difference? You have human rights.
So when someone asks me that question, I take offense to it because I know the intention is to shut me up. To put me and my kind back into our corners where we are asked to sit quietly so we won’t appear so threatening. The intention is to cause me to feel shame and to somehow tell me indirectly that this is the lesser of two evils. I get to feel pain because this is a possibility for so many of the people I love. You get to feel obtuse and indifferent because you can TRUST that if you had these encounters, you would live to tell the tale.
I can’t imagine my brother going to the US for university anymore. He’s tall and handsome and built strong. He is quiet so he wouldn’t argue or become belligerent. He would avoid all the avenues that could get him into trouble. But if someone looks at him and feels threatened by his mere appearance, there could be no difference between him and Ahmaud Arbery, or Trayvon Martin, or Mike Brown, or George Floyd. He deserves to live – period. We deserve to live. You deserve to live right? So what’s the difference?

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