"…Cause ain’t nothing but sweat inside my hand
So I dig into my pocket, all my money spent
So I dig deeper but still coming up with lint …”
I am terrified of white people. I usually don’t let anyone know this because I’m hoping that my Amazonian stature coupled with the “angry black woman” trope will keep me safe enough to get away before some white person remembers that the cops work for them & makes the call that may end my life (be that figuratively via a prison stint or literally at the end of the barrel of one of their firearms). The threat of physical violence, the black person’s only resort in a system with zero institutional protections for us, then becomes a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand it is all that leaves me with any semblance of safety, on the other hand my reliance on it allows me to be more easily painted as savage, dangerous, and deserving of the very violence I am desiring to escape.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. We impotently use our physical strength as measures of power our whole childhood. We are trained to understand that our fists and strength are all we have. The ghettos and schoolyards are our training grounds. A hierarchy is created with the weakest at the bottom and the strongest at the top. A Deebo runs every hood and as long as you believe your hood is the end of the world (and for so many of us it truly is) then Deebo runs the world. Wit, cleverness, and charm take a backseat to “real” power, tools used by the physically weak to survive along the margins, just to get along.
Diana Ross and Tracee Ellis Ross, Thierry Mugler Spring/Summer 1991