Straight from print: Beneath the floorboards of America: Black Lives Matter
This article originally appeared in The Eagle’s fall 2016 special edition.
If you had asked younger me whether I would like to be a White American or a Black American, I would have, without hesitation, chosen to be White. I would have chosen to abstain from my father’s long, well-intentioned lectures on the necessity of being twice as good in a world that would afford me half as much for my efforts. I would have chosen to not be followed around and stared at in stores as if the intercom had announced a Black spill on aisle 9. I would have chosen not to be repeatedly confused by college professors for other black bodies. [Dear Professor ____, just like I’ve told you throughout the semester, my name is Nickolaus.] I would have chosen not to have to prove that I “exist, that I matter, that I have value, and that I have every right to be me.”
What I am saying is when you live in a time where
“mobs [verbally] lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown [out] your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
the notion of waiting, of respectability, of complacency, of do-nothing, of black-on-black crime, of #BlueLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter becomes an insult. It is a mockery, a 21st century minstrel show.
It took a long time to come to terms with my Blackness. To come to terms with the fact that we were endowed by our Creator with inalienable Melanin, among the results being Death, Slavery and the surrender of Happiness. To admit that I was afraid because, as we remember our deceased Black sisters and brothers, the day may come when we too join them in the ground. But I have.
And with that has come the understanding that though they didn’t ask to become martyrs, though they did not ask to become hashtags, talking points or even “bricks in the road toward the actualization” of racial equality, and though we did not ask to be tasked with the burden of “pushing and pulling until we redeem the soul of America;” there is utmost importance in claiming your Blackness. It is a testament to women and men “who walked so we could run. It is a charge to run so that our children soar.” Your Blackness is a blueprint for the “temples of tomorrow,” and an example of how we will overcome this condition one generation at a time.
We find ourselves at the forefront of what is one of the most profound domestic social issues that the United States has ever faced, screaming Black Lives Matter from beneath the floorboards of America. Petitioning for the Blessings of Liberty, demanding redress from the Bank of Justice and standing on the shoulders of Giants, despite our condition, we remain steadfast that no amount of pacing or vacuous counter-rhetoric will drown out the heartbeat of our message.
Thump... Thump... Thump... “Dissemble no more... Tear up the planks! Here, here!” #BlackLivesMatter
Nickolaus Mack is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs and the School of International Service and the Assistant Editorial Page Editor for The Eagle.