--Dr. Wade W. Nobles
In the United States, people of African descent have lived a daily reality where in racism, and its consequence, are continuously present. When we interact with media, when we walk along the sidewalk, when we are at work, or at school, or just sitting with our own thoughts, the effects of racial oppression flood our existence. And yet at the same moment, the discordant message that racism and oppression are not real, but that these concepts are just figments or our collective imaginations, and our collective inability to relinquish the pain of past injustice.
Psychologically, these two realities are not congruent and do not easily coexist in the same mind. People react to the resulting dissonance in a variety of ways. They might feel anger, or confusion. They might experience hopelessness. They might just try to ignore it all. There are many ways that one might deal with this discordant existence, but regardless, the actual experience of living in a space that constantly attacks one's sense of what is real is in a word, "maddening."
Marilyn Mosby spoke from a position of institutional power and did something that is vanishingly uncommon for someone in her position. She delivered a message in validation of the reality that Black people in the United States have always lived with. She, in terrifying detail, explained that a Black man was assaulted, illegally arrested, heinously injured, and subsequently murdered by six agents of the state. And that this same man had committed no crime. Her message places in stark relief the reality of how easily the life of a Black man can be taken by police, and how it can be done through profound neglect and ambivalence.
However, we must remember that this is only a moment. It is a brief instance of transparency into a system that is generally obscured by White privilege and oppression. It does not guarantee that justice will be done, nor does it usher in some new era of “post-racial” policing. Yet, and still, it is a moment of relief, a moment in which we might throw off the constant weight of societal dissonance, and feel a hint of what it must be to live in congruence with our world. It is like the breath that a drowning man takes, as he pushes his way past the surface, knowing that the breath will be fleeting, but relishing it all the more.
It’s hard to be healthy when you can’t breathe…
But today we were able to take a breath.