USA Today’s Arienne Thompson says It’s Exhausting Being Black in America

Arienne Thompson
Arienne Thompson

by Arienne Thompson

Do you know how exhausting it is to be black in America? Do you have any idea?

Do you know what it’s like to be …

… followed in a store.

… “mistaken” for the help.

… petted like a dog because your hair is “interesting.”

… told to “get over” the wholesale trade and trafficking of your ancestors?

I do.

And so do millions of other black Americans. Rich and poor. Uneducated and those with a Ph.D. Famous and anonymous.

We are exhausted. We are tired. We can’t breathe.

We can no longer bear the weight of seeing our men, our Americans, our husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins humiliated, profiled, emasculated, choked, dragged and shot, day in and day out.

We are sick of needing new hashtags. #RumainBrisbon. #TamirRice. #MichaelBrown. #EricGarner. #TrayvonMartin. #WhosNext.

We are sick of hollow apologies and press conferences and presidential speeches and gone-too-soon funerals and distraught parents wailing in the streets.

We are exhausted. Aren’t you?

One of us, Chris Rock, is famous and he’s tired, and he’s saying so. He’s tired of having to justify black excellence vis-à-vis white approval. Of having to prove that we deserve to be players socially, politically and culturally in this country. A country built, in great part, on our sweat.

“To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years,” he mused during a New York magazine interview. “The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.”

Rock is right about all of it. Every single word. Especially that bit about “smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children.” Did you catch that?

Do you get as tired as I do when thinking about those “smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children” that won’t make it to their next birthday because America has fallen behind in the production of “nicer white people”?

Has your fatigue set in yet?

Click here to continue reading…


Arienne Thompson is an entertainment reporter for USA TODAY.

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