The Onus Is Not On Them
Originally posted on jaradeancoffey.com on April 13, 2022
Started while walking midday today, fine tuned in shower and finished looking west on the settee.
It’s about 3:30 PM PST.
This morning, I wrote the following in an email to a small group of men, primarily Black:
“I think of you each and on some days more than others. This weekend's news (for lack of a better term) brought you to my mind and heart moreso. So much work to be done and yet there was a time the world would not see what has been the truth for so long. Thank you for who you are and for how you are in the world. Be safe."
The events of this weekend at the Brooklyn Center in Minnesota and the news of what happened in December in Windsor, VA. compelled me to reach out to them. I am one who believes you say what you feel to the people you care about. Life is precious and the past 18 months has solidified that for me in even more profound ways.
As a Black woman, my life is disposable and often invisible.
Black men are seen as a threat. Their mere existence, unless for “show = commodification = capitalism”, is seen as something to control, dominate and if needed extinguished.
And so here’s what got me with my well meaning note…
It is not on them to be safe. They are simply living their lives. But I did ask them to be safe because at the end of the day all Black folks can do is try to stay out of harm's way.
I asked out of fear and love. But I am sitting here struggling with having made that ask of them.
Because we know the events of this weekend are not isolated events or things of the past, I will likely be compelled again to reach out to them. I will thank them for who they are and what they bring to this world. I will tell them I love them so I know they know it by heart.
They are the gift and the onus of recognition does not fall on their already too heavy shoulders.
The onus is not on them.