“Our deepest fear,” wrote Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love, is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”, these words resonated with me as I processed the hateful messages that I received throughout this last week with the announcement of September 12th as “BlackJoy Day” in Boston. Those bigoted comments took me to this image I captured a few months ago on the grounds of historic Faneuil Hall – land donated to the city of Boston by slave trafficker and owner Peter Faneuil. I found myself revising Ms. Williamson’s words to comprehend why a day that has nothing to do with those commentators would elicit such a response. Is it their deepest fear that Black people are not inadequate but powerful beyond measure? This photo represents to me an underlying fear of this movement for justice, equality and equity. I am challenging myself to uncloak the fear so that the work that is happening is not stalled because we refuse to name it and deal with it before it causes more unnecessary harm.
I have grappled with this photo and whether or not to share it because I did not want this homeless man, who happens to be white, to be denied his humanity even as my Brothers and I take a stand for ours. The juxtaposition however is precisely what makes the image powerful to me and I wonder what is the truth of this image? Does it represent what makes those who uphold white supremacy and systemic racism fearful? Does the thought of becoming invisible and having to ask for something they have never entirely given Black people make them shudder? Is this what they are so afraid of, Black men from CEOs to no “O’s” standing together without shackles and chains against an oppressive system built from hatred and enforced by brutality? Are they terrified of their undeniable evil deeds fully exposed by the lens of a camera, cellphones, or body cameras? Are they scared there is no redemption for the countless brutal acts of their ancestors? Are they afraid of what they will lose for others to rightfully gain their breath of life? Whatever the answers to those questions are, it is not the responsibility of Black people to give up our real lives to quell the baseless fears and insecurities of others.
To my Brothers and Sisters, Dr. King wrote in one of his sermons, “First, we must face our fears without flinching. We must honestly ask ourselves why we are afraid. The confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power…” As we continue to usher in this new day of justice, equity, and equality for Black people, fear must be banished. Everything we are seeking is on the other side of the fear. I apologize for every time my fear of speaking truth to power has stalled the progress of our community. Further, I apologize for the moments my words and deeds have been reactionary because of my desire to seize a moment rather than reinforcing our movement with wisdom, strategy and mindfulness. I commit to using power, love, joy, and a sound mind moving forward.