I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I actually took the time to audio record my thoughts about this in order to remember all of the points I want to cover.
What I want to talk about here is the need for Black people to be in a permanent state of “Hulk smash mode” at all times in order for our anger and outrage surrounding certain issues to be considered real or valid. Strangely enough, this sentiment seems to typically come from other Black people. I’ve seen an array of memes, statuses, and twitter posts regarding “fake outrage” and “Ya’ll forgot about (insert name of anyone that has been a victim of police brutality), and are back to (insert anything that brings of joy or helps us decompress)”, so forth and so on. The ” Ya’ll are mad about X,Y,Z, but don’t say anything about (insert unrelated topic)” also falls into this, but that is a discussion for another day.
This idea that we need to be in a visible form of outrage at all times or a display our anger in a form that others deem sincere, is nothing short of abusive. To these people taking a step back from focusing on the issues that harm us (which in reality we can’t completely do because we live in a society where are safety and well-being is always at risk) is seen as a sign that our anger and frustration is not real. They do not bother to recognize the harm that doing so would cause. They also do not understand that we have the capability to focus on and care about more than one thing at a time. Just because we are doing or discussing something other than that one specific topic, does not equate to us having forgotten about said topic or not genuinely caring. The times we take to laugh about a reality show or go out and enjoy ourselves is a key component to our survival. To stew in anger all the time is not only mentally harmful, but physically harmful. The physiological stresses on the human body caused by anger are linked to a slew of health problems, from high blood pressure to anxiety. To tell people that they need to always be angry is akin to telling them to harm themselves.
I’m not able to understand why the concept of needing to take time to experience joy in times of extreme pain is so hard for others to grasp. Especially, other Black people. Despite us not always showing it, to their liking, we are, in fact, in a constant state of outrage and there is no way to forget the injustices imposed against us. Simply because the names of Sandra Bland or Freddie Gray or Eric Garner are not tumbling from our mouths at all times does not mean we have forgotten them. It is actually impossible to forget them. Their deaths, and the circumstances under which they died, are hardwired into our psyches. Just remember the last time you saw a police car behind you and the automatic anxiety that caused. Think about the last time you were pulled over and the exhaustively polite manner in which you addressed the police officer. Think of how much slower and more deliberately you move when encountering police. These actions and reactions didn’t come out of nowhere. They are a culmination of years of seeing and hearing about Black people being brutalized, humiliated, shot, and killed by the very people who we were told are there to protect us.
This idea of fake outrage needs to stop. It is a lie. It is harmful. It hinders progress. If you encounter these types of posts from friends or family members, ask them why they believe this and then pull up any one of these hashtags and show them that we are still outraged, and no one has forgotten. #BLM #BlackLivesMatter #PoliceBrutality #JusticeOrElse