The Black Scream and the American Dream

Black people have been screaming forever yet in higher pitches since 2020. Given technological advances, we get to show you our lived experience of pain on camera. You get to see on live footage the murder of our people by some bad apples in blue uniforms. We get to share our own personalized trauma on social media platforms and maybe for once receive empathy. Our scream has been amplified and we recognize digital platforms as our co-authoring friend.

One thing for sure, you’d have to live under a rock to honestly say, “I haven’t heard a Black person scream.” Let me be more explicit, all races demonstrate pain which includes violence, abuse, and depression that can result in detrimental impacts on health. Hell, we even cry out for help in our spiritual places of worship. The unfortunate silent elephant in the room is that our Black scream has become normalized.

But it is not O.K. It took a global pandemic for our communities to freely speak about the urgent need to heal from our pain. Many individuals across our melanin diaspora are advocating to find ways to heal and tend to self-care. The old generational code of “suck it up” referring to our daily struggle is being replaced. A new notion of thriving, not just merely surviving, is taking root in our conscious. The present call is to “identify the pain so you can find healthy ways to release and recharge.”

Systemic racism isn’t the only planted seed embedded in our struggle – it is also the American Dream. The idea that our brilliance is one out of a million or be it one out of a thousand is a farce. Our brilliance is one out of every one – but history has achieved such success that his story makes far too many think there’s a scarcity of Amanda Gordons.

I mean, we consume these inferior notions so habitually that far too many Blacks engage in the “crab in the barrel” mentality, thinking only one of us can be at the top. This incites a level of competitiveness or envy which sticks with us like the memorable fly on Mike Pence’s silver hair. Why is it that only one of us can be great? We must STOP, telling our children that they are the only ones who are great – and tell them that we all can exude greatness. This God dam American dream got us running around the base, throwing bats at one another, striking one another out and forgetting that we are all on the same team!

Prior to COVID, I have worked tirelessly as an educator for my students to have a shot at the “American dream.” Even through COVID-19, our school community has persevered through new virtual learning platforms trying to hold onto joy and happiness amidst much uncertainty. Shortly after the pandemic began, the world got hit with a video of the insidious murder of George Floyd.

My brother, the Black world’s brother was slowly murdered for a duration of 9 minutes 29 seconds. On this day, I screamed – parts of the world screamed, the Black community wailed in a manner new to our generation. Even today, as I compose this piece, we are revisited with haunting trauma of abusive assault to Lt. Caron Nazario, and the police murders of Adam Toledo (a 13-year-old Latino son) and Daunte Wright. Daunte was a 20-year-old Minnesota resident, who had phoned his mother to inform her he had gotten pulled over by police questioning his expired registration tags. She never thought it’d be the last she spoke to her son. As I add these deaths into this piece, it makes me cry, it’s unendurable.

The wailing has not been discriminatory. It aches the souls of the rich, middle class and poor. It cut into the reality of achieving the American dream. I think many of us are still struggling to come to terms with how to “be.” The reality of large and small systemic policies, which police our very being, has screamed louder from the streets, rooftops, and the White House.

The recent insurrection has forced some engrossed with political power to critique White supremacy as an adversary of a peaceful democracy. The fact that a sacred institution was sieged by American citizens caused some to finally question the atrocities of White privilege. The events of January 6th showed up in a sacred backyard and you must wonder if Breonna Taylor resided at the Capitol would her life be just as sacred as the building, itself.

The morning of the Presidential inauguration in January 2021, prompted me to reflect on the definition of an American dream. I awoke with a bit of a burden from the past four years off my shoulder. I was elated to celebrate and welcome the new administration yet acknowledging that Black folks must also save themselves.  I sounded off on Twitter to publicly call for everyone to put on their own capes.

We have to deliberately decide to not allow our country to other us into inferiority nor to usher us into silent contentment. While we celebrate the first Black female Vice President Kamala Harris, we must not forget our screams. We have to critique our reality and identify the routes which have fueled our screams. This American dream based on white paternalistic and capitalistic ideologies was never intended to help us achieve, at least not in our full holistic selves. We must muster the strength to consciously change our mental framework so we can show up and resist systemic racism in our best selves not our drained selves.

 In the same manner, that we are advocating for a reimagining of our educational system nationwide, we need to rename our dream to a People of Color dream! Reimagining our dream both collectively and honoring individualized dreams will be our path to forge forward.

Ask yourself, how many dreams you’ve had sliced down from either your family or friend’s circle or socially constructed perceptions. Which dreams were supported? What is your God given talents, skills, and natural abilities – these are your strengths! Better yet, where do you find your happy space and what brings you the most peace in your life?

These answers will help you move closer to manifesting your highest and happiest self. Would you agree that’s what we should reach for in life? We must model for our younger generations that to manifest our own dreams we need both feet planted in self-love and inclusive empowerment.

A People of Color Dream is what I want to happily scream for and call out, “YESSSSSSSS!” That’s where the joy resides.

What do you think?

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Tomiko Ball

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