Am I Willing to Die for This?
Whenever I have this conversation with myself (because I do, often) Sandra Bland and the reel of her being pulled over and arrested loops through my mind. Did she ever ask herself this question? Was she mentally prepared for the events that followed her arrest? I can’t imagine that when Sandra Bland left her home that day she thought that her untimely death would be the result of not using her turn signal. And then I check my privilege and realize, maybe that scenario or scenarios like it had indeed been omnisciently understood for her because of her experiences as a Black woman in America, experiences I can’t relate to but can empathize with.
I imagine that MLK was fearful when he left his house on certain days. I imagine MLK was fearful for his life in his own home many days. How did he mentally prepare for that? Am I willing to die for my freedom and the freedom of others as freedom fighters that came before me were? Am I willing to die for my freedom and the freedom of others as the unknowing Sandra Bland’s were?
I feel like if I’m serious about this fight for liberation I have to be. I don’t want my name to be another hashtag and that shouldn’t be a consideration when deciding to join this Movement, but the reality of it is that it is a condition and this is a question you have to ask yourself. I don’t want to die fighting for freedom, not because I value my life more than the lives of others, but because we shouldn’t have to.
The privilege of my youth also makes room for me to ask myself this question. Technology and the fallacy of the American Dream have allowed me to decide what my role in the Movement for Black Lives will be, there are advantages to a Civil Rights Movement in the 21 century as opposed to the Civil Rights Movement that laid the foundation for us although the line between what separates the two is thin.
What is the difference between fighting for your rights in the 1960’s and the past two years of the Movement for Black Lives?
At first, the differences seemed obvious; Black folks have a voice I was tempted to describe as undeniable, but then I reconsidered; every time an officer or person of the State gets off for crimes against Black folks, our voices are denied – still. Violence against Black people participating in protest and civil disobedience in the 1960’s was expected, you would think that in 2015-16 there would be more respect or understanding for protest but violence is surely something Black activists anticipate. Two different decades, yet with no change in how we discuss accountability in regards to state violence.
So if I join this fight, am I willing to die for it? The answer is unclear, but I do know that I need to be prepared for it. I need to be prepared enough to know that speaking up and out can have consequences and that if I link arms with the brothers and sisters of my community we need to be prepared for those that want to break down our wall in order to keep our chains intact.
Am I willing to die for this? As hard as this question is to ask myself, it would be privileged of me to participate in some of this fight and reject the parts that I don’t want to be a part of, especially when so many Black folks before and during my time have not had the same chance to choose.
Share your thoughts either in the comments or with a tweet: Is this a question you've asked yourself? What was the conclusion you came to? Is death something freedom fighters have to be mentally prepared for as a possibility?