Defending Ours: Stephon Clark

As the news of Stephon Clark murder was being described last month, I envisioned it from an ominous viewpoint: a young Black male chilling in a backyard then all of a sudden his body is being riddled with bullets. I didn’t post anything about Stephon; I just watched the story develop. Then last week on twitter, one of my followers was defending why she cursed out Stephon and the mother of his children. As I followed the thread, she had screenshots of Stephon and his girlfriend’s tweets disrespecting Black women and Blackness. I logged off.

The tweets from Stephon and his Asian girlfriend were not shocking, but I definitely needed time to process:

  1. Another death of an unarmed Black person killed by police.
  2. The anti-Blackness of the said dead Black person and his non-Black girlfriend.

After a while, I realize that they are mutations of each other. In other words, one is external racism (extrajudicial killing) while the other is internalized (self-hate), therefore, the hegemonic structures at play complicate the feelings/reactions of Black women towards a Black man who was killed by police. This prompted a couple of questions: Does a Black man who disrespects Black women warrant our energies of resistance against the police state? If the tables were turn, would he have done the same for us?

I had to parse this out some more, roll with me…

Even though Stephon was anti-Black doesn’t mean that he deserved to be killed. It means that the self-hate got to him before the bullets did; they took his mind before they took his body. Ain’t no more to it…no, wait, there is…Now, some Black women are double mad because of the recurring trauma of another child being buried, and the child’s dislike for them. My follower was not with it at all, she defends Blackness without hesitation and does not tolerate any anti-Blackness, especially towards Black women. Her choice of words made me wonder, who should we be more upset with Black men who are anti-Black or the structural forces that allowed for him to think that way?

I thought of Stephon’s grandmother crying at the press conference. She mourned her grandson who learned not to love her beautiful complexion. Damn.

Just in February, we rejoiced at the representation that we wish we saw when we were younger and glad that the younger generations get to see themselves because we understand the importance of self-love. (WAKANDA FOREVER!) When we see videos of Black girls saying affirmations to negate bullying, and white ideologies of beauty, we smile and hope that she will continue to love herself (Kheris Rogers is a notable example). What are we doing for our Black boys? Are we teaching them self-love or community love? Are we telling them to appreciate us, and not just their mothers? Let’s keep it a buck, just because a Black man loves his mama or daughter, don’t mean he loves all of us–there is no guarantee that that love is transferable, honey. Men like Kofi Siriboe are limited editions.

Kheris Rogers
Kheris Rogers flexin’ in her complexion (Source: Instagram)

To my brothers:

This is a community effort, my love. Little Black boys and girls are watching how you interact with Black women the same way they watched Black Panther and repeated lines after. My grandmother used to say: You bend the tree when it’s young. Whatever your preference in women, make sure you respect Black women because someone impressionable is watching you and will take notes on how they should treat others and themselves. Lastly, if you need reasons for why you should respect Black women, watch the protest videos and look who is marching, fighting and crying for you, for us, for our survival.

To my sisters:

No matter your thoughts and feelings about Stephon’s death, they are valid! I get it. Nothing but love and respect to you. The truth of the matter is as the “mule[s] uh de world,” we get tired—we carry a lot (including the adultification, sexualization and criminalization of our existence as early as age five), and yet, we are fighting for the same ones who elide and scorn us. Stephon may have gotten the side eye for dating outside his race, but for the disrespect of Black women—it’s 2018, you gets cancelled for that. Dead or alive, apparently. As many have said before, “let [the ones] you love fight for you.” That’s the way it should work, right?

The more I sit with this the more insidious it appears. It’s the old divide and conquer strategy. We only fight for those who are pro-Black and we fight with or cut off those who are anti-Black. Hmmm…

My thoughts:

I think for us to survive, teaching self-love and community love is best—the tools that are not the slave masters. Shout out to Audre Lorde. The self-hate that Stephon exhibited was a learned behavior, it’s not innate. I don’t think we should round up every anti-Black man and school them, those are like sequoia trees in Cali (nah, go ‘head with that). I am not looking for solidarity with any of these men. However, having a check list of who we should or should not defend when we are all attacked, allows for more division and delayed progress. Therefore, when it comes to those Black boys walking around saying, “I never freeze” and “Hey Auntie,” they are the ones to invest our energies in from boys to men. Moreover, it’s easier to defend someone who loves you because the battle is not just for our lives, but for our love.

 

 

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