'It’s overwhelming to articulate my feelings about being a Black man in this country' - Generocity Philly

Purpose

Jun. 4, 2020 7:47 am

‘It’s overwhelming to articulate my feelings about being a Black man in this country’

Journalist and Generocity freelancer Peak Johnson reflects on his conflicting feelings about what he is observing and experiencing in Philadelphia at this pivotal point in history.

Peak Johnson walking around his neighborhood June 3, 2020.

(Courtesy photo)

I’ve been taking the last few days to gather my feelings about the events that are taking place here in Philadelphia and around the world. It’s challenging. The hatred, the anger, and the injustice is a lot to take in all at once.

Writing about this, I’m not sure if I can truly do it justice. I’m tired, very tired, but I am trying to be hopeful. I never thought that I would see the country so divided and then united at the same time. It’s a beautiful and complicated thing, I suppose.

I don’t expect my words to be substantial. I have no sage advice to give and I don’t expect what I have to say to sway a person’s opinion on the matter. I do want to add my voice, even if it’s brief, to this conversation. A conversation that has been written about numerous times and will continue to be.

I won’t mention much about the looting, other than it’s hurting our already struggling Black community. I think that’s what started to bother me the most. I’m tired of hearing explosions before I go to bed at night and I’m tired of hearing the sound of helicopters.

But when you’re fighting for equality and are a person of color, there will be casualties. Still, I wish there was another way. I’m not sure if I can get behind the image of so many buildings burning and the anguish of the owners.

But then I have to remind myself that the options for “another way” have expired so many times.

If we’re not careful, though, if we don’t think before acting, then what is being done for George Floyd and others will become something entirely different. We’re demonized enough as it is, even now as we protest peacefully throughout our own streets. I’m not sure I can describe how mentally and physically draining that can be.

And writing think pieces about your one night in jail alongside us doesn’t really help.

Yes, there seems to be some progress being made, but I’m hoping that it’s because of the peaceful protesting and not because our elected officials fear what a person of color might do next.

We’re good people, we just want fairness and accountability.

Being caught between joy and fear when thinking about the color of your skin is never fun and I don’t think our allies will ever fully understand. After the past few days, I’m hoping that maybe they will have a better sense of that. That things will continue to change and move forward.

Or is this just for show, an event to be a part of for however long it lasts? I’m not sure that the images of some police kneeling is completely sincere, but something to appease us so that we’ll go away.

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I hope I’m being clear with what I’ve written. It’s hard to explain, but there are times when it’s overwhelming to articulate my feelings about being a Black man in this country. Sometimes even here in Philly.

Even now I feel as if I’m stepping on eggshells about what I should and should not say so that I don’t offend anyone.

I can’t help but wonder as the days and months progress if things will truly get better. Not just here in Philly, but in Georgia, New York, Minneapolis, and around the world.

Will there be a better understanding between police and the public? Will certain policing tactics be shelved? Will the death-by-police rate for people of color decrease?

I am skeptical, but I am also hopeful.

Things have to get better, right? I never thought I would see so many people come together, even though a health crisis is taking place, marching together.

Kneeling together.

Deciding that at this pivotal point in history, at this moment at least, we choose to be one.

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