I should not be fighting the same fight that my grandparents fought. This is…disgraceful.
This is Death, Sex & Money.
This has been a long time coming.
The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot…
I just feel angry and overwhelmed.
...and need to talk about more.
I’m really hoping this gets us somewhere because I’m sick and tired of being in the same place.
I’m Anna Sale.
And this week, a lot of you have told us what you need to say right now, in this moment of protest against racism, and anguish about recent brutality, illness, and devastating loss.
I’m used to racism being a thing in the background. I’m used to racism being something that’s subtle and something that isn’t in your face. But right now it feels super point blank and straightforward in a way that’s hard to deny and it just feels like, oh, ya’ll don’t even care who sees.
I think what I need to say is:
I'm struggling, I’m not doing well.
I cry, it hurts my heart, sort of physically it hurts.
I want to scream.
Friends ask if I'm okay. And I tell them I'm not because I'm not. How can we be okay when we live in a state of terror?
It can’t be tolerated, it just can’t be.
I can’t get this stuff out of my head and it’s really hard to then sort of show up the next day, you have to go to work.
And it’s messing with a little bit of my work productivity and stuff.
And it just feels so, so heavy.
And there are so many things I want to say… or so many things I’m thinking about, rather, and just don’t know how to say.
We heard from those of you who are white…as well as those of you who identify as people of color. Thank you to all of you who told us what’s on your mind. But today, we’re mostly going to be sharing with you what we heard from Black listeners.
NICOLE: What I want to say right now is that I’m disappointed.
Nicole sent in this message from from Brooklyn, New York.
I can't say that I'm surprised, but I am truly disappointed in the way this country continues to treat Black people like we don't matter. Um, I am a woman who is looking to have children, and seeing what is being done to my people makes me fearful of just having children. This country does not like us, this country does not love us. And we built - we built it! I am angry. I'm disappointed. I am frustrated. And while people are making comments about the looting and the rioting, none of us - none of us should be telling people how to grieve. And we have protested silently for so long, and that has not worked. And it is time for white people not to just sit back and look at the TV and wag their finger. It's time for you guys to do the work. Get up and put your bodies on the line. Get up and dismantle these systems that have been put in place to keep Black and Brown people behind and below. Do that work. Do the work. We are tired. Black people are tired.
EMMETT: How I'm feeling about everything is just very... combination of tired and angry. Um, I think those are the two main emotions in there.
Emmett is 25… and lives in Dacula, Georgia, outside of Atlanta.
Um, the tiredness comes from the fact that, um, this isn't the first time we've seen this cycle, you know, my name's Emmett, and Emmett Till died due to a false accusation from a white woman, um, decades and decades ago. So like this has been a problem forever. And we're still at square one it feels like, things haven't changed at all. And it's not surprising. It's one of those things where - I was actually listened to a, another podcast called Spawn On Me, which is a Black-centric, uh, video games podcast. And they had on a special panel the other night to talk about all this stuff. I just finished listening to that. And one of the panelists, Blessing [Adeoye] Jr., um, he had talked about how a lot of this stuff, especially when you're in gaming circles, where there's not a lot of Black voices there, you kind of like, in order to just get by, you have to just drop it and put it to the back of your brain a lot of times. And so that that the weight of that terribleness in the world doesn't weigh down on you too much and it just ruins your life. It's just something you have to compartmentalize and try and go on despite it, even though that is totally not the ideal way to deal with it. And on that podcast, Bless was talking about how this whole situation has kind of allowed him to feel again. Um, and I totally do feel like, yeah, it's always been in the back of my mind, but now it's like at the front of everyone's mind, which makes it feel like I'm allowed to have that be at the front of my mind now as well.
BUKIE: Hi, my name is Bukie and I live in Philadelphia. I'm Black, I'm female. I'm an immigrant to the United States. And I am also in an interracial relationship with a white man. We've been together for over a decade and we've been married for four years. Um, with everything that's going on in the world, I'm just completely terrified and full of anger and rage and sadness and pain, and I'm grieving, grieving, and just beside myself. And I don't sleep, I don't quite know what to do. And it's hard to believe that change will come because if we know history, we know we've been here before. And I suppose what I really want to talk about is the deafening silence of my white family members. Besides a couple of them that have reached out, the majority have not said anything at all. Not a text, not a call, not a "I'm thinking about you"... nada since all of this started. And I can't say I'm surprised. I can't, 'cause I'm not, but I am disappointed. I am sad that their silence and the complicity continues even in this stage of potential great awakening. And that fills me with dread. I don't want to see them. I don't want to interact with them... because I don't believe that they see Black people as human beings.
KRISTI: Um, hello, this is Kristi, 49, Dallas, Texas. Um, and right now I'm feeling scared. Uh, I feel like I've always been scared for all of my life, but just at a low line level, like a buzz. Uh, but with things happening from the last couple of weeks, it's starting to feel catastrophic. And just the fear of being Black, a woman, and a Black woman that likes to run, loves to run. Uh, and now I feel like I'm afraid and scared for just one more reason. Like running is taken away from me somehow. Uh, but even so, I always try to not let that fear stop me. Because I need to run. It's something that has saved me many times over my life, from childhood trauma to dealing with it, to depression, to suicidal thoughts. And when I run, the fear that I had eventually dissipates, and I don't get to feel that for those few minutes that I'm out. So I lace up, I get brave, because that's what Black people, people of color do. We dig deep, and we get brave, and we keep going. We deserve the right to live and run and feel normal without the fear of harassment or just feeling fear. Uh, so each time I lace up, um, I know it's still gonna be there, but I, uh, it's still my right. It's still my right to run, and I don't want that taken away from me. So I'm going to keep it.
After the break… more of what you need to say right now.
This is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC. I’m Anna Sale.
And today, we're sharing some of what you told us when we asked, “What do you need to say right now?” While most of what we’re sharing in this episode is from listeners who self-identify as Black… we also wanted to share this message, from Sabina, in Olympia, Washington.
SABINA: So I am, uh, I'm a Brown woman. Uh, my parents were immigrants, I’m first generation, my mother is from Guatemala and my father's Pakistan. I grew up in a Muslim household. And I have intimately experienced racism in this country. And I guess like, as I'm seeing these like protests and marches and like online presences in response to George Floyd's murder and police brutality and inequality and injustice, you know, I'm just, you know, I'm just wondering, like, have any of these people, have any of these white people, like actually showed up for Black and Brown pain? Do these people actually give a shit about Black people, or is this just an opportunity to, like, show up to a thing? Because it's not just about police brutality. It's about everyday racism. You know, being a person of color, I can deeply understand this sense that, you know, Black folks go through that, oh, like, I'm not in the right neighborhood. Maybe this isn't safe for me. I need to like, watch how I dress or speak around these certain groups of people if, like, I want to make a certain impression. And just like, am I going to encounter a situation that makes me feel unsafe, like physically unsafe? And it's based off of a lifetime of, of dealing with microaggressions. It's not—racism isn't always explicit. Like the police brutality is extremely explicit, but it's just like, it's just the most obvious manifestation of a problem that's always happened - that's always been happening. I'm really inspired, but also very upset. It's just this emotional dissonance. And I just want to ask, you know, white people, did - have you - do you actually care about regular-ass Black and Brown people in your lives? Do you care about their feelings on a daily basis? Do you care about their emotions? Do you give them grace if they don't always keep it together because a lot of us have accumulated so much hurt and pain and trauma and are so patient all the time. And I don't know if white people really understand that.
ANTOINETTE: I think what’s hardest right now is the surplus of white people reaching out to let me know they’re thinking of me during this really difficult time. And I think what’s really hard about that, is that they don’t really understand that all the time is a really difficult time when you’re Black in America. And so what’s happening right now with the pandemic and the marches and the deaths that we see, is that we are kind of really surpassing what I would call a difficult time. I don’t know how to describe it, really. I understand that people who are not Black are now forced to think about all of these things right now. But I need them to understand that all of these things are something that we carry every single day. And on every single day, every normal day, no one really asks, how am I doing during this difficult time, or tells me that they’re thinking about me. And that’s really tough.
ANN: Here’s what I want to say about everything that’s going on in the world at the minute. Obviously you can probably tell by my accent that I’m British, um so it’s a bit different in that I don’t have the historic, American lens. But what I do have I guess is, sort of, because of how I grew up and where I grew up, which was predominantly white neighborhoods in England, all my friends are white, my boyfriend is white. And I guess I've always experienced a sort of socioeconomic privilege, um, that, you know, even family members, cousins and stuff like that, don't have. And yet in this instance, I can't help but feel that before I'm anything else I'm Black, I've traveled to America so many times. I always used to want to live in L.A., and now I'm scared. Um, I'm really scared. And it's exhausting. The whole thing is exhausting. What's most exhausting, I guess, because of the people I, I am sort of surrounded with—obviously my family is Black, but in sort of my work, the job that I do, which is very corporate, and my friends and all that stuff, I find myself being looked at as someone who has answers, I guess because I'm not also shy about talking, but I'm tired. I've had a lot of people saying, "I didn't realize," and I'm just looking at them like, how did you not realize? I am and will always be Black before I am anything else, because nobody hears me speak, or sees where I live, or what car I drive before they see me as a Black person. And it's exhausting to have my best friends asking me, what can we do? I don't know. I don't have the answers. And it's sort of started to irritate me in two ways, the sort of silence from my friends that feels complicit this time. But on the other hand, I'm watching celebrities speaking now, when they haven't spoken about your Trayvon Martins and your Philando Castiles and Mike Brown and whoever else, and they're speaking now, and they're speaking now, and I feel like they're only speaking now because so many people are saying it, they feel sort of a comfort in crowd. And I know that it isn't fair, but that's exactly how I feel. I'm annoyed. I'm exhausted. I want people to say something and yet, I'm irritated when they do, because it feels performative. And yet there's a little part of me that hopes that this time there's real change. I will be marching. I don't have the luxury of looking away, as much as I really, really want to because I'm tired, and because it hurts. Because any kids that I have will be Black before they're anything else. My nephews are Black. My niece is Black. My father is Black. My brother is Black. My sisters are Black. So, yeah. What do I want to talk about? I guess everything and nothing.
JANINE: It's an interesting time because when asked what you want to say, I feel that I don't want to say anything. I feel, um, as a person who happens to be Black in 2020, we've been saying everything that needs to be said for as long as, you know, racism has existed. It's been the same thing. So it's hard to say more. What is there to say? I think one thing that I'm trying to get at in my own kind of subjective experience and in my relationships with white people, is that I don't believe for a second the sentence that says, "I don't even know how you feel. I can't imagine how you feel. I can't imagine what it's like to have your son out, you know, at night." Yes, you can. Yes, you can. That's the point. You can imagine. You do know. I just don't believe it. I don't believe for a second that, you know, empathy is racialized and subjectivity is racialized. I believe that there's a cognitive override that you're doing. I believe that there's a lie that you're telling yourself about what you can’t see and you can't feel. And I would like to suggest that the unconscionable thing that you can't get your head around, we Black people also cannot get our heads around. It is unconscionable that what happened to George Floyd could happen. The way you see it is the way we see it. You’re just pretending you're seeing something else, you know, you're pretending you're seeing something normal. And we know that every time this happens, there's a tear in the very fabric of reality. We know that. We've always known that. We know that there's a tear in the fabric of reality, and we're still supposed to get up and go and be a person. And we do. And we do.
That’s a listener named Janine, in Philadelphia. Before Janine, you also heard from Antoinette, in Dallas… and Ann, in the UK.
Thank you to all of you who told us what you need to say right now. Keep telling us. We're listening. Our email address is email@example.com.