Dear Respectability Politics Brigade: This Is Time For You To Shut The Fuck Up

Kearston Farr comforts her daughter, Taliyah Farr, 5, as they stand in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., after a mass shooting at the church that killed nine people on June 19, 2015. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In the wake of the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, this letter is equally outdated and timely.

In what seems like the unsavory mixture of an eternity and “just yesterday,” Black people have been murdered (again) by a White person (again) for the crime of "existing while Black" (again).


As I struggle to process the array of feelings after receiving yet another harsh blow of tragic news, the very last words I want to see are, “Black people should…”

You see, unbeknownst to you, we have been afflicted with a severe case of “Tired While Black.” This affliction includes, but is not limited to: hundreds and hundreds of years of racially-based trauma, micro-aggression, struggling to maintain a sense of community in the midst of it all, et cetera et cetera et fucking cetera. And yet, we somehow continue to carry on with our lives, fully-equipped with the world’s most effective mask. Just sit and think about the sheer ridiculousness of that weight. Shit, even Atlas shrugged.


Tragedy after tragedy, the cacophony of bullshit follows: Why are you so angry? Violence is only fought with non-violence. If only we respected ourselves, we’d gain their respect.

Well, with all due respect, I hereby declare that it’s time for you to shut the fuck up. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to read it. I don’t want it with a fox, I don’t want it in a box, I do not want your “Yessamassa” flavored green eggs and ham.


Our people have pulled up our sagging pants, seized that Westernized higher-education, code-switched our way into corporate culture, extended our hands in an attempt for all-inclusive peace… and were. killed. anyway.


Every single one of your “solutions” have been pissed on at the hands of blood-thirsty vigilantes and crime-fighting figures alike. If the fact that we can’t even praise and worship in the place that serves as the very definition of sanctuary without the threat of blood doesn’t finally make you realize that the solution isn’t found in our reflection, then I highly suggest you take my advice of silence. If you really want to help, that’ll be the best bet. Because, at this point, I’m finding it hard to believe that you’re not being willfully obtuse.


Dictating what Black people should do or feel after this constant exposure of erasure (both physically and figuratively) is to take away our humanity. And our enemies are already trying to take that away, whilst expecting us to remain superhuman.

So damn tired. And angry. And sad. And frustrated. And hurt. And enraged. And Black.


So, let me be all of that. Let me be.

Share This Story

About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.