The Crushing Weight of White Supremacy

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This isn’t the post I had originally started writing for this month’s “Disquietude, Distress, and Dread” theme. Originally, I was going to share with you how I’m learning that Fall and this last quarter of the year are when I’m most vulnerable to the symptoms of my illness. I had written words detailing how my anxiety spikes, I sleep less, my stress level rises, the managing of the mundane tasks of family life floods me with overwhelm daily, I have to sit in front of my SAD lamp, and I tend to want to retreat from being social.

But then I woke up this morning I found the crushing weight of White supremacy pressing into my chest, it’s sulfuric breath hot and scorching against my cheeks, its eyes bulging wildly with hate, a sneer spread delightfully across its lips. I found it staring me in the eyes, like it always does after another event, after another video emerges, after it ravages and guts the soul from another Black body.

I logged into Facebook and at the top of my feed was a thread on a friend’s page where a friend or family member of theirs was defending the choking, body slamming, and slinging of a Black girl’s body across a classroom by a school resource (police) officer. If only Black girls wouldn’t be so defiant. If only Black bodies would do what they are told when Whiteness demands it obey. If only Black voices weren’t so uppity and disruptive. If only Black intelligence would just know better. If only Black womanhood would stop being so . . . BLACK. If only Black personhood would quit demanding it be allowed the space, grace, and rights to just be, exist, and live out its humanity like everyone else. If only.

If only we protected Black girls the way we protect White fragility and Whiteness’ delicate sensibilities. If only we would grab the knife and slash the throat of White supremacy. If only we would snap its neck, break its spine, and render it incapable of oppressing Blackness and Otherness any further. If only Whiteness had the courage and audacity to yield its grip on your mind and choose another way of thinking, living, and co-existing. If only Whiteness viewed Black children as children deserving of respect and care and even innocence. If only that teacher and school administrator had called that young girl’s guardians instead of police authority. If only we could abandon respectability politics to see the root of the issue being inflicted upon her body again and again, and yet again in that video.

If only living in Black skin didn’t mean having to live with such a reality. But yet it does, and so today all I have for you are these words: I can’t stomach this anymore. I can’t sit with the weight of supremacy crushing my insides. I can’t read the lies coming out of people’s fingers as they type their defenses of brutality in comment sections. I can’t take in the full scope of what it means to be Black and female in this world, what it means to have a “social construct” of race and otherness brutalized and encoded into our skin and existence repeatedly, relentlessly. Not today. I’ll go insane. So instead I’ll retreat and recover and build myself up so I can face it all tomorrow.

A'Driane Nieves

A'Driane Nieves

Writer at AddyeB
A’Driane Nieves is a USAF veteran, writer, artist, speaker, and postpartum depression and anxiety survivor living with bipolar disorder. A'Driane's writing, focusing on the intersections of life, motherhood, art, music, faith, race, and mental health, has been featured on BlogHer, UpWorthy, EverdayFeminism, Postpartum Progress, and the 2015 Austin Listen To Your Mother ensemble. In 2014, she was a BlogHer Voice of the Year. In 2015, she was nominated for an Iris Award for Most Thought Provoking Content. An activist with a heart for serving, social good, and mental health advocacy, she believes art and words can foster dialogue and serve as a catalyst for personal growth and responsibility. She lives in California with her robotics loving husband and three boys.
A'Driane Nieves

Latest posts by A'Driane Nieves (see all)

  • Abby Norman

    White fragility. That was such a hard pill for me to swallow, that white fragility is part of the problem, that my feelings automatically get centered and I need to make sure they don’t. I am SO GLAD people like you are speaking up and I am learning. I am so grateful that I am knowing better and doing better. Thank you for this. It is important.

  • What makes me angry is that you should NOT have to deal with this today, everyday, next month, all year. You should not. And yet you know you will have to, even when your reserves are gone and no human being should have to endure. I am sorry for this. I feel sick at what our society requires of you. I am astonished that I could have ignored this reality for so long. I am mourning with you that this is reality. I am mourning that the attitudes and habits of white supremacy are in ME, that they are automatic and habituated, and that the only way to give you rest is for all of us, especially me, to start doing the work to battle white supremacy wherever we find it. Thank you for this brave post.

  • Wishing you retreat and recovery, A’Driane. I admire you, strength AND vulnerability, and your beautiful, clear vision of this wrong that is so, so wrong.

  • Suzanne Terry

    “If only we protected Black girls the way we protect White fragility and Whiteness’ delicate sensibilities.” THIS. This whole paragraph, actually. I watched the video and said, “That never would have happened to me” – not because of anything that I as a student would have done differently, but because of the whiteness of my skin and who my parents are. It’s sick that she didn’t get the same consideration.

  • Jean

    *hugs* Nameste. The light in me sees the light in you. You have been made in God’s exquisite image. You are valued. You are loved. You are held.

  • Jane Hertenstein

    for example: white girl texting in classroom, maybe goes to the office, maybe parents get called
    black girl texts in classroom, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/cbs_chicag-local-advocates-express-o-20151027-premiumvideo.html
    taken down
    I’m reading the comments under the video–and it’s like: she broke the rules, kids need to learn.
    A’Driane=don’t stop blogging, posting, using your voice

  • Velynn

    Sis thanks for saying what I wasn’t able to quite put into words yet…
    “I can’t take in the full scope of what it means to be Black and female
    in this world, what it means to have a “social construct” of race and
    otherness brutalized and encoded into our skin and existence repeatedly,
    relentlessly. Not today. I’ll go insane. So instead I’ll retreat and
    recover and build myself up so I can face it all tomorrow.
    Retreating under His wings with you… <3

  • Gina

    Thank you for sharing this! I too felt sick as I read comments yesterday justifying the situation. I’m glad someone put it into words.

  • Jane Hertenstein

    She was texting!!!??? So what? Obviously other kids had their phones out because there are SEVERAL videos of this incident on-line. People text in their cars and they don’t get pulled over and thrown to the pavement. (I wish.) We are a society used to live-blogging, simultaneously walking,
    eating, and tweeting. Congress does it when the President is
    delivering the State of the Union address. So what is the deal here????
    How is texting disrupting a roomfull of students–anymore than say an officer throwing a fellow student onto the ground and straddling her???

  • BaddestMotherEver

    I was eating lunch outside at a sandwich shop, by myself, reading a book, being a white woman in middle age and middle class. A youngish black man, carrying all that he owned walked down the sidewalk towards the bus stop where the fellows from the Salvation Army hang out. We both looked up at the same instant and our eyes met. I saw FEAR in his, fear of meeting my gaze. He looked away as fast as possible and compressed himself to take up as little space on the sidewalk as he could. That was the moment that I realized that my white womanhood, which will be protected so viciously whether I ask for it to be or not, makes ME the dangerous one.