The Six Freedoms Kept From Black Folk’s Grasp
Being black in America is one hell of an experience that white people, definitely would not trade. Being black in America means automatically to be feared as “America’s Boogeyman”. Being black in America means that you will have to give your children, very unique “talks” (that no other race has to do) to keep them from getting lynched. Being black means that you are infinitely the “other” to the white person’s “self”.
I never seen any document that attempts to word out the lack of freedoms black people exist with. Here, after all of my studies and observations, I realize that there are Six freedoms —essential human rights — black people do not have:
- Freedom of Emotion
- Freedom of Space (Appearance)
- Freedom of Memory
- Freedom of Healing (Recovery)
- Freedom of Self-Defense
- The Freedom to Protect the Other Five
I think it’s important to note these freedoms locked away from black people are also freedoms that white people have in abundance. Technically, regardless of whatever is going on, all civil rights goals (concerning people of color) revolve around either one or many of these Six Freedoms. The control of black people banks off of whether black folks have these freedoms or not. Therefore, these Six Freedoms ought to be fought for passionately.
Hence, a lot of white resistance to black civil rights (now called “social justice” work) is all about maintaining power over black people. Having particular Freedom like the Freedom of Self-Defense means that if a cop, deranged white person, or whoever under a white supremacy wants to freak out and murder (read: LYNCH) a black person for merely existing, that white supremacy agent might get their heads blown off preemptively.
Looking at these Six Freedoms, they damn near look like Infinity Stones from Marvel Comics. There’s a lot of power in these freedoms being kept from grasp; people can be literally eradicated. If someone doesn’t have a particular freedom — or if that freedom is controlled by an outside antagonist — that’s a lot of power over someone’s existence. There’s a lot of about being Black in America that feels like we are spinning in a tornado. To exist in the United States as a black person, can be shattering if one were to genuinely look at how much control we do not have concerning our very own existence. These Six Freedoms are most certainly tied to these.
Keep in mind that Freedoms are only as good as they are defended, so no, you cannot state black people have particular freedoms when the defense of said freedoms are flimsy, such as the right to protest, the right to bear arms, the right to live, etc.
Make no mistake; these Six Freedoms are essential human rights we need to take and defend.
Freedom of Emotion
“Tone policing is a focus on the emotionality of a statement versus the content of a statement. The intent of the tone policing is to protect whoever has the sociological privilege. In this case, it is to project white privilege and protect white privilege.” ~ Johnny Silvercloud, circa Aug 2016
The Freedom of Emotion — or lack of it — has been well documented. The Lack of Freedom of Emotion is usually referred to as tone policing.
“While tone policing in race relations is a white man’s fieldcraft, that doesn’t mean a black person doesn’t engage in this. Black people have been recruited or unwittingly served as agents of white supremacy for a very long time, infinitely talking of civility to the colonized, without ever suggesting civility to the colonizer.
This also includes the Forgiveness Battalion of the Butter Biscuit Brigade when they make demands of the oppressed black people (i.e., please peacefully protest) versus making demands of the oppressor (i.e., can you stop murdering under your badge?).” ~ Johnny Silvercloud, circa Aug 2016
Being that I already wrote on this topic, I’m not going to repeat myself when you can literally check hyperlinks, I will say it would be a great benefit to the black community if we were to unlock this freedom. When black people don’t have Freedom of Emotion, we don’t have the freedom to express our pain. We don’t have freedom to express our most-justified anger.
In America, to be white and angry is to be respected and acknowledged. To be black and angry means to be killed on sight. Lynched. Put down. Fact.
It gets worse; toxic masculinity is fueled by the masculine reluctance to understand and properly process one’s own feelings. If we as black people unlock this Freedom, and exist with full range of emotion unabated, we can learn to express ourselves in a healthier way. This will in turn branch off into diminishing toxic masculinity within the black community.
Angry is the #1 thing black people are conditioned to fear being. Why? Angry, gets shit done. Half the time, white people are observing pain and trauma, and they call it anger anyway. Angry, should not exist as an accusation to throw on black people to shut them down. We are literally persecuted for projecting our own humanity; we are supposed to be angry at that.
Frequently we tone police ourselves at all times in fear what, literally what white people think. We always worry about what white people think. Our lives are driven by what white people think, and following white desires of black people is driving black people to their graves. White people don’t worry about keeping their emotions in check, but black people do. This imbalance is putting black people in a mental, emotional, spiritual prison. So yes, the destruction of tone policing is necessary for true Black Freedom.
Freedom of Space
Freedom of Space is simply freedom of existing without undue harassment. The fact that American police forces can be easily summoned to move, harass, arrest and even murder (with impunity) is proof of the fact that Black people do not have this freedom. With the viral video of a white Starbucks barista calling the police on two Black businessmen — within two minutes of their arrival — it is more than evident that black people do not have Freedom of Space. A sheer lack of Freedom of Space is one of the prime factors in how white supremacy murders black people with impunity. Stephon Clark was murdered in his own backyard.
White people’s false entitlement to Black spaces comes from two historical artifacts: European Colonialism, and American Slavery.
It is a strange thing to ponder the mind of a white society concerning race relations. When I step outside myself to gather the mind of white people in America, one can only conclude that white people insist on impinging on Black folk’s Freedom of Space because, the way their minds work, black people are not supposed to be here. Black people, from a white standpoint, are not supposed to exist. This is the only logical conclusion why folk under a white supremacy would call the police on someone minding their own business. This is the only conclusion why white people would support a clearly corrupted police/legal system when unarmed black people are murdered by police.
The Freedom of Space problem also correspond to how white people infinitely figure they are entitled to spaces a black person is currently occupying. The quantity of black people in unison bothers whites as well; infinitely they always act like more than two black people are a gang or a set of people up to no good. This is most likely an artifact from American Slavery where if a set of black people were occupying a space, they were owned by a white person somewhere. White people to this day STILL act like a white person is needed when there’s a group of black people present… as if a given location is too black, and it needs to be whitened or something.
White people LOVE to interrupt Black folks when we are talking, or cut us off while speaking. I hate that mess. It’s like to the white mind, Black folks exist to disrupt, versus existing to be acknowledged.
This white entitlement to Black Space is evident in regards to how many black women (and black men!) speak on their experiences when it comes to white people reaching to touch their hair. Once again, this comes from a sense of sociological ownership; when Slavery ended white people never got detoxed from it. So from there, a multitude of racist social artifacts like feeling like they own your space still remain.
Freedom of Space also affects Freedom of Appearance. Black people are simply not free to express themselves through clothing, hairstyles, or any form of physical decorations without harassment. All our lives we are told to not sag our pants for example, but infinitely wearing belts properly doesn’t ever save Black lives. Not having gold grills in our mouths, does not net us any respect to the point where white folks recognize our humanity (on equal terms).
Freedom of Appearance doesn’t just exist in the visual realm; it also governs the world of sound. When it comes to American parlance, there’s no reason why an American dialect shift is a problem when it’s associated with black people, but it goes unnoticed when a white person says it. One of my favorite dialect artifact to test is the word “ask” pronounced “axe”.
Out of the thousands of word bends, syllable merges, consonant drops, gliding vowel variations, rhoticity ranges, accents and dialects, and other linguistic variables existing in the English language, it’s categorically baffling to observe such a slight variation in the pronunciation of a word get approached with so much animosity.
Sure, at a first glance you may wish to train yourself to drag the ‘s’ sound in the word ask after the millionth white person act exaggeratingly annoyed, but when you give the totality of the Americanized English language a really good look, you’ll realize how pervasive racism is. No Freedom of Sound-Space.
Because we don’t have this freedom, it has to be taken. The next time a white person interrupts you, call them out on it. The next time a white person attempts to touch your hair, say no, and be adamant about it. You have to respect your own space first, before anyone else does.
Freedom of Memory (History Access)
“If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” ~ Carter G. Woodson
Black people are not only tone policed, and physically over-policed, but also memory policed. We as black folk do not have Freedom of Memory. At all.
Black people do not have Freedom of Memory. Ever noticed that, as a black person, you can never mention or reference oddly specific parts of American history without accusations of being “stuck” in the past? Ever noticed that anyone else, especially white people, can mention or reference any part of American history without ever being accused of the same? Weird, right?
The accusations of being “stuck” in the past when mentioning or referencing Slavery, Jim Crow or any form of historical white supremacy is a form of memory policing.
Memory policing (coined here, you’re welcome) is so ingrained in Black people, black people do it to themselves the most. It’s categorically absurd how for some strange reason, oddly specific parts of history — documented or not — is off-limits to Black people. This is ridiculous, and wrong.
Technically, the accusation doesn’t even make sense. How can someone be stuck in the past if they literally exist in the present? How can someone be stuck in the past, when no time traveling capability exist? Is something being forgotten in the present while referencing basic history? Does it hinder future plans? Does referencing Jim Crow cancels future appointments or something?
How come a Jewish person can “never forget” concerning the holocaust, but Afro-Americans cannot?
This restriction of memory diminishes black folk’s historical competence, and from there becomes the next best thing to restricting black folks from reading.
How often this accusation is placed can climb to ridiculous heights. There have been times I have been accused of being “stuck in the past” when I have corrected a white-minded person when they mentioned Jim Crow or Slavery first!
Speaking of which, how come no one ever accuses a white person of such? How come, for example, confederate flag waving white-minded folk are never accused of being stuck in the past?
It seems like Black people are sociologically forced to not remember in order to appease white guilt.
This lack of Freedom of Memory for black people but not whites, creates a white privilege in regards to time and memory, which implies that remembering stuff is the domain of white people. Technically, this freedom infringement on memory becomes a culturally sanctioned “whites only” sign on historical understanding.
Historical revisionism — or historical omission — is the next best thing to rearranging present-day reality. In a way, it kinda does.
There’s further damage done when black folks aren’t free to remember. Technically, the institution of white supremacy can practically rearrange reality when no one is capable of calling out lies and deceit. One great example, is the whitewashing of Martin Luther King. Another example is calling the present day Republican Party “the Party of Lincoln”, or pretending the KKK are not white conservatives. Other toxic historical revisions include anything concerning the myth (read: LIE) of Irish slaves. The list goes on. The world gets uniquely dangerous to a black person if there’s no understanding of history, letting white powers pretend their way into school textbooks.
The next time someone attempts to memory police you, I suggest you immediately slap them in the face. When they wonder why you slapped them in the face, ask them how are you stuck in the past if you clearly slapped them in the face, in present time. Alternatively, you can then flip the script and wonder why they are now bringing “old things up” and then accuse them of being stuck in the past for demanding answers for something that has already happened (you can touch their nose opposed to slapping them, too).
If restricting memory and historical understanding is the next best thing to prohibiting black folks from reading, then NOT having Freedom of Memory is equal to illiteracy. Don’t be situationally illiterate; that’s part of their plan.
Freedom of Recovery
Black people are not allowed to heal, or recover. We do not have the Freedom to recover. At all. Ever noticed how black rappers (or black anyone) who used to sell drugs in their youth are NEVER allowed to move past such status, and are INFINITELY REMINDED that they sold drugs before? Even when they are incredibly far removed from ever selling drugs again?
Tomi Lahren — or any conservative (read: white supremacist proto-fascist) — will infinitely remind the public that a black person has sold drugs before. Or was a gangster before. Or anything bad, if you done anything bad before.
This is what a lack of Freedom of Recovery looks like; one cannot make mistakes and change their lives around. Any mistake in life becomes permanent stains. And white people are not treated like this.
Freedom of Recovery also means being free to gather reparations. Being Black in America and referencing reparations makes white people flip out just as quick as calling a white person racist.
Economically, everyone else who have been done wrong received some form of reparations. Black people of America have worked so hard to make the United States a modern day powerhouse, yet made to feel as if we are without a country. A sheer enemy to this Freedom to Heal is the school-to-prison pipeline that exist, seemingly explicitly for Black people to be funneled into a prison system which engages in free labor and further permanent economic and civic injuries.
Reparations are not just economic but also socio-psychological.
Back to the J. Edgars, It’s like a black person has to be some sort of elite, ethereal, angelic, Silver-Surfer celestial superhumans in order to get basic human respect.
Keep in mind that no other race of people has such a high standard to receive basic human rights to recover.
No matter how punished and tortured we are, we have to exude an infinite amount of poise. Sadly, we are never afforded the time or space to actually acknowledge the damage done to our community. Us not being allowed to acknowledge points back to not being allowed to access history properly, so it should be easy to see how all of these lack of Freedoms intersect.
It has to be understood that in order to heal, the trauma inflicted has to be properly identified. One cannot expect healing of a wound when one pretends the wound doesn’t exist. Black people are charged with the task to pretend Slavery, Jim Crow, police crime immunity, the prison-industrial complex, and other institutional racist systems doesn’t exist, all while being affected by them. This ignorance exist to make white people comfortable.
White comfort > Black lives. White comfort levels is always prioritized over the treatment of Black people.
Freedom of Self-Defense
Ever noticed the landscape of America concerning gun control, gun ownership and gun rights? Ever noticed how gun ownership seems to be a whites only club? Well by law a black person can own guns. I own guns myself. But….
Yeah, for the most part, Black people do not have the Freedom of Self-Defense. Black people are never expected to defend themselves. One case in point is the story of the murder of Trayvon Martin. You see, in a world where Black folk are not allowed to defend themselves, a Black person’s fear of harm is something never considered.
When Trayvon was murdered, every white-minded person worried about the myth of George Zimmerman’s fear of assault. No one but intelligent black people actually wondered about Trayvon’s fear; he was a child being STALKED by a strange adult in a truck in the middle of the night. It shouldn’t take an immense amount of critical thinking to factor in a Black person’s fear of harm. This neglect of understanding is intentional.
In a white supremacy, white people’s irrational fear (afrophobia) of Black people trumps black folks JUSTIFIED fear of personnel empowered by white supremacy to lynch us on sight.
This afrophobia even contaminates how police officers think and react, and how they defend themselves from the law itself when they literally proclaim they “had reason to fear for my life,” after murdering random, unarmed Black men, women and children in cold blood.
This problem of never considering a Black person’s fear of being automatically murdered by police forces and other white supremacy-enabled miscreants is a great pathology within white America. This lack of consideration towards a Black person’s rational fear of being lynched is directly tied to a culturally sanctioned restriction of a Black person’s right to self-defense.
Black people are not even nationally honored when they do defend themselves. The Waffle House hero, James Shaw Jr., never got proper acknowledgement from the Trump administration as he defended himself (and by proxy, everyone else who wasn’t shot yet) from a white supremacist spree killer. Back to Malcolm X, he gets demonized by white influences mostly because he advocated Black self-defense. White influences actually exaggerated Malcolm X’s self-defense advocacy into, “he wants to kill whites.” This exaggeration points back to Freedom of memory; if you didn’t know the true history of Malcolm X, you would regurgitate distortions and lies about him. And yourself.
Freedom to Protect the Other Five
Looking at the first five Freedoms, we as Black People don’t have the freedom to protect, or fight for, any of the freedoms listed here. This is the Freedom to protect the other Five.
This is overall freedom of protest. Freedom to fight. It’s another thing we aren’t allowed to do. Sure, there’s no literal rule that says, “black people can’t do this, black people can’t do that,” but when you arrogantly wonder out loud how come there isn’t a rich or famous black person protesting, and then you blackball a famous football player (which makes him more famous and proves his point), it is self-evident that white people have culturally sanctioned the silencing of black people in pain.
We aren’t allowed to feel fear or anger concerning racism unless whites are okay with how we express ourselves. We aren’t allowed to heal or recover from socio-economic injuries; hell, we aren’t even allowed to remember them. We are neither allowed to defend ourselves nor exist on our own terms. And we are not allowed to fight for these rights — these freedoms — either.
So in essence, all of our civil rights, or social justice struggle, is tied to obtaining these Six Freedoms. The good news is the fact that these have been identified, it’s easier to acquire them. It’s easier to hit bullseye if you can clearly identify your target.
Photography Credit: Johnny Silvercloud