I had something different planned for this post today. But at it's heart, this is what this "thing" is supposed to be about. Doing life is a Black Man in America. Striving to succeed despite the constant weight tied around our necks that is the lasting legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and institutional racism that rots away at every corner of this country. I do my best to focus on what I can control, what I can impart on others. Productivity tips, my thoughts and personal experience with health and wellness, political advocacy. Shit, even some advice on good Bourbon and cigars to ease the tension at the end of a long day.
None of that shit matters though when I see my people being systematically exterminated. Either killed outright through state-sanctioned violence, the residual effects of poverty, a healthcare system that fails us. Or in the case of Lafayette Parish Deputy Clyde Kerr III, killed by insanity.
I've actually attempted to steer clear of news-feeds for the last month or so. I've called myself doing somewhat of a "Digital Detox" Recently. Fueled by diving into a book called "Digital Minimalism" by Cal Newport. But also though, watching my people get mowed down and displayed across the news week after week has become draining. Seeing America step on and over us time and time again eats away at you after awhile.
But this day, while sitting in the car waiting for my wife to come back out from the store, I scrolled my newsfeed and stumbled upon the story of the black Sheriff's Deputy who shot himself in the head outside of the Sheriff's office.
The brother was 43 years old. A military vet who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just prior to taking his life Kerr made several social media posts condemning institutionalized racism and describing his struggle as a Black law enforcement officer in a system that he says condones police brutality against Black people.
In Kerr's own words:
"I've had enough of all of this nonsense, serving a system that does not give a damn about me or people like me," Kerr said in one video, speaking directly to the camera. "You have no idea how hard it is to put a uniform on in this day and age with everything that's going on."
"This is my protest against police brutality and everything else that comes along with it in this broken, wicked, worldly system that does not give a damn about people,"
Now I don't know anything about this brother outside of what I've been able to gather through my own web search and news feeds. I don't condone his course of action. Especially not killing himself. And I do not know what type of life he lead before his untimely death. But I do know the crushing and often helpless feeling of trying to survive and thrive as a Black Man in America. Specifically when you descend from chattel slavery in this country.
Add to that the absolutely deplorable job this country does of caring for the mental wellness of its's military vets. Then double that with non-existent mental-health geared to Black American men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death for black males, ages 15-24. Suicide rates have doubled among black men since 1980.
I am reminded of a popular quote by James Baldwin:
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time - James Baldwin
The only thing I would add is that a conscious Negro is in a state of both Rage and Insanity.
Over the course of the last few years my own eyes have been opened to both the true history of US Freedmen in this country, and the dire current state of things. I've come to understand that income is not an indicator of wealth. When instead using net worth as the baseline, Black Americans are truly a bottom caste to the tune of 17k median net worth compared to 170k for White Americans.
I've come to understand that there are more black men in prison in the United States then all of the women across the entire world.
My eyes have been opened to the countless massacres of black towns swept under the rug of America's hidden history.
I have studied the promises of reconstruction and reparations that never came. Real economic stability and being made whole, full American citizens was sabotaged and still has not happened.
I could go on, but the point is once your eyes have been opened, once you understand who you are, what your people have truly been through, once you no longer believe the lies and can analyze history and data for yourself it takes you to a new place. This new place begins as one of hope and a belief that armed with knowledge, data and the drive to share what you have learned that you can make a change.
Over time though that optimism is chiseled away and replaced with a hazy cloud of Insanity.
This country works so damn hard at distorting reality in order to maintain the current pecking order that even once you know the truth you begin to feel like you in fact are the one going crazy.
When your eyes are opened and you fully realize the state that we're living in as a people and the direction things are headed, when you attempt to live that truth against the manufactured veil of American Democracy you are by definition insane. You are foolish, irrational, and you are slowly driven to madness. The only way that you can not be in that state, is to instead chose ignorance.
This is the reason why it's often so difficult to get black people to want to see the truth, because they know it's there, they choose not to embrace that truth because they'd rather live in ignorance especially if they believe that real freedom is not possible. It's easier to live in the ignorance but be sane.
At the end of the day we are living organisms fighting to survive at the most basic level. People just want to live in the most comfortable, flourishing way they possibly can. If you believe that White America is impossible to beat, eventually you will just settle into the current reality. You will settle into not fighting and will instead try to make as comfortable of an existence as you can.
I believe that's what Officer Kerr tried to do, like many of us. There comes a point however when two realities simply cannot exist at the same time. For Clyde Kerr that collision of realities I'm sure was heightened by the fact that he was a law enforcement officer. Once you have reached that "relatively conscious" place as Baldwin so eloquently puts it, normal life is no longer an option. You have three choices ignorance, action or death.
I've chosen action because I can't stomach ignorance. I pray to God however that in this daily fight I'm able to maintain enough sanity to stay afloat.
Skip to main content We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255 President Signs National Suicide Prevention Designation Act Into Law The President recently signed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act into law.
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