Featured, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

The Importance Of Self Preservation Amidst Casual Savagery

Though they rain down my social media feeds and timelines daily, I have been hiding or scrolling past videos depicting shitbag police having their way with Black and brown bodies lately. It’s not fair that I mosey on over to Facebook to squander my day with chicken recipes and clips of paternal itch-inducing dancing Black babies, only to be greeted with stories and videos and images and vines and Snapchats of newly dead Blackfolk. 

I hate that pictures of dismembered Jamals and the violated Keishas and the bloody, murdered babyboos get mixed in with the cat videos and food porn and the dancing Black baby videos. Though they can be considered historical in context, images of lynched grandfathers and mass graves and fatal wounds are a disturbingly regular part of social media now. And that is fucking terrible.

When did we become so desensitized to tragedy? Why are camera phone pictures of Black corpses filled with bullet holes their dreams, blood, and potential forming a puddle beneath them — disseminated without any consideration for the unknown viewers? What do we gain from reposting the final moments of somebody’s uncle, somebody’s wife, somebody’s babyboo?

 Awareness is one thing. Casual savagery is another.

Similarly, videos of Confederate flag enthusiasts — the sorest losers in this country’s history — fighting for their right to be morally bankrupt fucknuggets who celebrate subjugation? At this point, they are a bore. Sure, it’s fun to poke fun, but how many times do we need to see Us being terrorized and assaulted to recognize that untreated melanin envy is as dangerous as dining at Sandra Lee’s and is no laughing matter?

Staying on the pulse of every injustice and learning and chanting all the names can be emotionally draining. Sometimes, it’s all too much to keep up with, especially when living is harrowing enough by itself. At this point, the selective humanity and the state-sanctioned awful personhood should not be baffling or viewed as new or unexpected, for history, daily news and social media all tell us that this (wave upon wave of violent inhumanity) is the natural order of [their] things. Just take a look; It’s in a book. Any book.

And no amount of cleverly (and predictably) invoked Uncle Jimmy quotes or Langston lines or Mama Toni snippets will make it better. Trust me: posting that corpse won’t make it better, either.

Analyzing every instance of White terribleness is a thankless, never-ending undertaking. So, on occasion, before you do, don’t. It’s totally fine to opt out.

White fear and untreated melanin envy have been the root of countless crimes against Blackness, so until we’re able to poof-be-gone these hateful scumbaggy motherfuckers off the planet, we have to do much better at caring for Us and protecting and maintaining our sanity.

I appreciate and love that folks anticipate and respect my opinion, but sometimes, I just can’t deal and it’s too mentally taxing to be Mr. Outrage or Mr. Help Steer Whitefolk Away From The Darkside Somehow Someway Although That Terribleness Is Persistent As Fuck And Has Been Since The Beginning Of America here to make sense of their senseless fuckshit. For me, self-care amid such casual savagery means disconnecting every now and then, focusing on Life and devoting my energy, attention and love to those who love and look out for me.

I highly recommend you do the same. Sure, your voice matters. But so does your mind. Clock out from the circus when necessary.

In the rush to engage and inform, it won’t kill you take a second and consider:

Will sharing or repeating this benefit anyone?

Am I exhibiting the Oppressor’s heartlessness?

Is there a better way to address this injustice or tragedy than with the reposting of a gory visual?

What would Moms Mabley do?

Recently, during a Blackety Black roundtable by Define: BLACK, I spoke on some of the difficulties I face while interpreting and commenting on these tragedies, as well as the importance of keeping it together for you first before attempting to be a voice or source of comfort or information for anyone else:

Define: BLACK – Alex’s Reflections from Awake Storytelling on Vimeo.

Alex Hardy

Alexander Hardy is the dance captain for Saint Damita Jo Jackson's Royal Army. He is a writer who escaped Hampton, Virginia and is now based in Panama City, Panama. There, he runs The Colored Boy, and consumes copious amounts of chicken. He has written for EBONY.com, CNN, Gawker, and Huffington Post among other outlets. Alexander can likely be found daydreaming about his next meal or Blacking It Up on someone's dance floor. He also doesn't believe in snow or Delaware. Read more from Alex at www.thecoloredboy.com

  • Mike Brown broke me. I used to be the ONLY one of my friends on social media that would comment on anything racial. As soon as I had the perfect time to say “This is what I’ve been talking about!”, I looked inside and realized I didn’t have the energy. Its like you said. It’s just too exhausting when it happens over and over. I know apathy is the greatest sin so I will pick up my pitchfork and torch at some point… I hope.

    Thanks for helping not feel like I’m the only one.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    I become numb to things very easily, because repetitive experiences will do that to you.

    But I’m not tired. I know these videos will continue to come, but that’s because I remember something very fundamental: human suffering exists all day, every day. Just because someone video taped it does not mean that’s the only instance of it that day. There’s so much more ongoing daily, and it is unrelenting. To just naturally assume the few examples we see every two weeks is enough to be exhausted by is almost laughable.

    This world is so cruel, and we are so protected by our bubbles that even when we see people suffering, we still aren’t empathetic enough to understand it is SO MUCH WORSE. We take the bits and pieces we are comfortable enough to swallow and leave the rest on the plate, but forget the plate is HUGE. The food never never goes away.

    The only thing I want out of myself and other people is to realize there isn’t a magic day when if we feel like fighting for what’s right, or helping out, that we need to be in a better position to do it. We can do something now even though we don’t have much, and it would still make a small dent that wasn’t there before.

    • Ani-Q

      “There’s so much more ongoing daily, and it is unrelenting. To just naturally assume the few examples we see every two weeks is enough to be exhausted by is almost laughable.”

      #MatthewAjibade

      #Theoneswhose namesIwillneverknow.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        Sincerely so.

        So many names lost in the shuffle. So many lives gone unrecognized.

        They deserve our prayers and hashtags as much as anyone else does.

    • LMNOP

      For me part of why it gets so depressing is the hopelessness, it feels like this just relentless flood of terribleness and i don’t know what, if anything I or anyone can do to change it. And spending all day walking around with this deep, consuming rage and no good outlet for it can be a problem.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        That’s understandable. It does hurt, very much so, because it makes us look insignificant. You begin to question what you, as one individual, could do against such a massive problem that has existed for as long as humanity has existed. But in the end, I feel like that’s the wrong way to look at it.

        I don’t think we can be so arrogant as to say “what I can I do to make this better” because the truth is, anything we do can be helpful to SOMEONE. But we need to temper our expectations, and remember that human suffering will never end. It has always been here, and it will always be here, because it is in our nature. Our only objective then is to help as many people as we can along the way, to make a difference for the future of each new generation. If we do that, our hope is their numbers for positivity grow higher than ours, and keep progressing.

        If you think about it, we are much better off than any other generation before us in regards to human suffering. We just have to continue the trend.

        • Ani-Q

          “But we need to temper our expectations, and remember that human suffering will never end. It has always been here, and it will always be here, because it is in our nature.”

          Yep. I know not everyone can cope with such a truth and I would always inwardly sigh whenever someone describes an act of violence or cruelty as inhumane when such behaviors are so human.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Exactly. Just because we went from bashing heads in with large wooden clubs to bombing people with drones from 2 continents away doesn’t change the fact that violence is still violence. The one thing our civilization does really well is look at past behaviors and find a way to reword the definition of those behaviors so it can look like we’ve evolved.

            We went from animal skin to full length suits but that never changes the desire to destroy.

        • LMNOP

          Very true and very wise rewind.

          • RewindingtonMaximus

            Thank you love.

  • miss t-lee

    “For me, self-care amid such casual savagery means disconnecting every now and then, focusing on Life and devoting my energy, attention and love to those who love and look out for me.”

    I felt this 300% When I tell folks I simply can’t do “it” anymore. I really mean it. That doesn’t mean you don’t care, or don’t feel. It simply means you gotta detach yourself from the situation to ensure your own well being.
    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either.

    • Another thing I wrote on detatching when necessary: http://www.thecoloredboy.com/2015/08/hey-there-overwhelmed-person.html

      • miss t-lee

        This was so true!
        Fried chicken. The truth and the light.
        I can dig it. :)

    • Knowing how the terrible movie ends removes my need for watching the whole thing.

      • miss t-lee

        Exactly.

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  • Dcetstyle

    Sandra Bland haunted my dreams for weeks. I was working out of town when it broke so I was especially spooked. From watching the video and that horrific mugshot, I knew I had to take a step back. Not only is it exhausting, but it hardens the heart as well. So thank you for sharing.

  • TeeChantel

    This.

    About fifteen or sixteen years ago, there was an incident that involved a young black boy and a white police
    officer. The boy, who was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, was pressed up against a cop car by the 250lb police officer. When the cop pulled the boy away from the car, he (the boy) allegedly grabbed the cop’s balls. The police offer slammed the boy’s head into the hood of the cop car…the slam was so hard the boy ended up in the hospital with a concussion. The footage aired on all the news stations for about a week. And to this day, I cannot get that footage out of my head.

    Besides this video, Mike Brown is the one that really got to my soul. Now, I worry about my 17 year old nephew, who is currently away at college, my 13 year old nephew and I also watch out for the little blacks boys in my neighborhood, many of which I don’t even know. Heck, last night, while walking to my car I kept an eye on these little black boys in hoodies while they were walking to their car. I hate that we – especially our black boys – are walking targets. It is very exhausting to have to be in protective mode everywhere I go, but I feel obligated to protect my young black people in any way that I can.

  • Charles Johnson

    It’s not necessarily the deaths that get me, the callousness in the way we talk about them that gets to me.

  • I don’t get touched much by the death itself, or the politicized conversations that go on afterwards, what bothers me are the irrational defenses used when the cop gets off, and no where was this more apparent than Eric Garner. I spent a good part of my life in Nigeria, so I’ve always been a cynic about political institutions and their tendency towards corruption, but there is never really any legal defense for such things – it’s done in a matter of fact way. It’s when the cop gets legal justification that I get desensitized.

  • Julie Mango TheGladiator Staff

    Thank you for articulating what I was too exhausted to say to an ally (read: White friend who grew up in the PJ’s with me) Mr Alex Hardy!

  • I can’t. I’ve seen enough dead bodies to last a lifetime. I can’t keep doing it. I’m not saying it doesn’t need to be reported, however they don’t need to be spread repeatedly.

  • I think that this may be the reason why I’ve turned pretty hardcore toward VSB in recent months. It’s a good outlet for talking about the important stuff but then just chatting and bulls h i t t i n g about whatever else.

    In general, I’m pretty squeamish. I was not prepared for people posting footage of Walter Scott, for example, especially because I didn’t realize before that you could turn off auto play in Facebook. I still haven’t seen the actual moment because I’m QuickDraw McGraw with the scroll. But yeah, breaks are needed. I’m always angry and that just ain’t healthy.

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