The price of becoming an American attorney is too steep for Black American female descendants of U.S. government sanctioned slavery.
The place is New York City. The date October 6, 2014. The attack was not the worst I’ve endured as a Black female in America, but the fallout has forever shaped – and drastically altered – my relationship with American democracy.
Racism is the most existential threat facing Black Americans in the United States.
I must point out that Black Americans are not equally impacted by American racism: it is the Black American descendants of slaves – who are underrepresented in every meaningful, significant, influential, prestigious, and illustrious face of America’s democracy – who bear this significant burden.
Racism in America impacts how a civil rights case is treated by the Southern District of New York, whether three white Assistant District Attorneys in the Bronx will find a triable cause of action for rape when reported by a Black complainant, if a white male dean at New York Law School will meet with a Black female impacted by misconduct committed by a white male perpetrator on New York Law School’s campus and again re-traumatized by the school’s racist response. Racism impacts if bystanders will aide an American being victimized in public, if injuries will be highlighted, represented, and adjudicated with the same zealous fervor provided to victims who are non-Black in America.
Racism impacts the value you and your children will derive from American citizenship and American democracy. What you are paid, if and how often you will be promoted, how you are graded, if you will be stopped by the police, and how you are taxed are all impacted by racism in America.
Racism impacts if a church will tell a rapist that his victim has just reported him – and he’s under investigation by the police, whether a white rape counselor will blame the Black victim, whether a neurologist decides it is appropriate to ask: ‘why did you dress up?’ for a doctor’s appointment, if Teach for America will permit a white female employee to consistently push her work load on to her Black female colleague – who was also an evening law student and a Marine Reserve, and – if the Black employee is heard when she reports her white colleague to Teach for America’s Human Resources department and the Chief Information Officer responsible for her white colleague.
This isn’t complicated: racism against Black American descendants of U.S. government sanctioned slavery will not remedied by individuals from without the community. Indeed, in the long history of electing non-Black Americans to serve and lead Black Americans have endured more salt poured into open and festering wounds. Meanwhile, non-Black American leadership have benefitted causes and races they deem deserving (just as they always intended).
Nothing I’ve shared today is shocking or even begins to probe the most severe forms and incidents of American Racism endured by Black American descendants of slaves: this truth is too unpalatable for those who have not endured true racism in their beloved democracy. True racism cuts to the bone, penetrates every system you rely on to sustain life, and deprives you of life with such penetrable force that generations will feel that tangible hate and describe it as inescapable while crying out to a living God (because the dying always pray to God).
Claims much publicized by a beloved white male figure and his bi-racial wife summarized just how perilous racism is for Black Americans who did not of their own free will choose America or its racist policies. Prince Harry described racism as so abhorrent that he was compelled to flea his country, yet not so abhorrent as to compel him to disclose the racist offender(s). Prince Harry’s belief that racism is tolerable to keep the peace – or for any other reason – does not accord with the lived experiences of those who have endured and suffered racism: if you’ve experienced racism then you know that all racism must be rooted out, and cannot be tolerated.
As a Black American descendant of slaves, my maternal family did not choose America or its racist policies. I cannot – will not – make peace with racism. Racism is abhorrent. Each and every instance and perpetrator must be exposed. Exposure and expulsion is the only way to purge the world of an evil so vile.