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Michaela Lacy is a youth advocate, writer and educator in the city of Milwaukee, as well as community connector and volunteer coordinator for Ex Fabula, looking to create change in the city and challenge power structures.
I always find it profoundly interesting hearing white folks say they love this country. My mind does mental gymnastics trying to figure out which aspect of the country they are referring to.
I have spent 20 years of my life trying to maintain this toxic relationship I have with America. This has to be the unhealthiest arranged marriage I’ve ever witnessed: my black body and the systems of the United States. I am in a domestic violence partnership that is almost impossible to leave. As long as I continue to exist as a black woman, I will always be in danger here.
Amid the current events taking place right outside my Riverwest door, I hang my head in great shame. I am torn between protecting my body from the harsh effects of COVID-19 and protecting my people in the midst of the uprising.
My heart wants to feel the warmth of fire flames attempting to burn this country to the ground. My body wants to crawl into a hole with a cup of tea and a pack of wet wipes. This dilemma leaves me mentally stagnant and hinders me from enjoying my day. I am more at war with myself than I have ever been, and every decision I make is made with intention and turmoil.
I find myself shutting off my phone to avoid seeing images of my people with knees in their necks, only to find myself right back on social media to stay in the loop. This is how I felt every time I am informed about racist police brutality in America.
I come from a lineage of folk who have been harassed, abused and even murdered by the hands of police. My brother’s name is homage to my uncle Ernest Lacy, who died with a knee in his back and fear in his heart. Every day, I live in fear of history repeating itself with my little brother. Nearly 40 years later, and my brother still risks dying in police custody. It is this feeling alone that will never let me love America. It is that feeling alone that motivates me to continue to stand with the looters, rioters and protesters walking the streets of my city.
Racist white America could never understand the feelings that run through my body daily. Just weeks ago, I found myself in bed one night with the powerful urge to purchase a camera. I thought to myself, “I don’t have enough pictures of my loved ones. What if one of them dies suddenly and I have no images to remember them by?” Why do I have to think this way? Why do I have to be afraid I won’t have enough time with my loved ones to create sustainable memories?
White America, I am done with you. I am done handing you history lessons as you spit your hatred into my teary eyes. I do not owe you my story. If you cannot understand why my people are outside your door filled with rage and yearn, pick up a history book or turn on the news. White people are lucky that black and brown people are looking for equality and not revenge.
For all the black people feeling tired, enraged, broken, defeated and unheard: I hear you, see you, and love you. This revolution is personal. Communal, yes, but always personal. Each individual is fighting collectively for themselves as individuals. America, I refuse to love you until you do better.
An angry black woman with a bone to pick.