Growing up, my grandmother and my mom would do sometimes use a parenting practice that used to literally drive me insane.
There were moments when I knew I had no business asking certain questions—whether it be inquiring about whether I could go to the movies or mall (while on punishment, mind you) or asking for soda or candy (after I was already told I couldn’t have anymore).
Somehow they would just look at the TV, stay immersed in the book they were reading, or stare into my eyes as I made my plea. Showing no inflection or frustration. Just total silence.
As a child I would continue asking until someone like my cousins or my dad saved me from myself, urging me to abandon ship. But as I grew older, I knew that the ask would be met with silence, and that asking again after the first time only deepened the silence and the shame.
And so without an answer, I was left to come up with my own conclusion. I was forced to sit with my thoughts and think on why my question didn’t even deserve a response. Because I knew, within my heart that I was dead ass wrong.
This is how I feel about Terry Crews.
At this point, we’ve had numerous conversations with him—even within the last month, about the dangers of propping up whiteness and shuffling for white acceptance. But on Tuesday morning Terry Crews used his laptop and/or his phone and tweeted the following:
“If you are a child of God, you are my brother and sister. I have family of every race, creed and ideology. We must ensure #blacklivesmatter doesn’t morph into #blacklivesbetter.”
Now, anyone who is of reading age could probably decipher that underneath this language, the message remains that what is valued, and what is most important is the “othering” away from protecting Blackness. Which would lead us to conclude that there is a heaviness littered with “All lives matter” in this unfortunate post.
This “Kumbaya” mentality that Crews touts was never reserved for Black people. And it never will be. It is merely a distraction to keep us from talking about how we can dissolve the systems which were set in place to restrict our civil liberties and freedoms, financially, emotionally and socially. It sounds and looks nice, just like the Black Lives Matter murals painted in yellow across our MLK Blvds.
We don’t know what made Terry come to this conclusion on Tuesday. It could be a variety of things. In this pandemic we’ve seen the toppling of many a institution, corporation and individual. And the urge to prop up whiteness or to profit of it’s adjacency is something that he will need to reckon with; alone. What also makes this painful is the evidence that for many cis-genered Black men, the goal remains to obtain and preserve the aspirations of the “American Dream” or the “white picket fence.” For others who do not identify as cis-gendered or male, there is no pathway in this place or home we call America. We are forced to make up our own to carry along.
We have already tried to reason with him, and gently chide him in private and public conversations.
It’s clear that he keeps asking for permission from someone other than his community. So let us render him the gift of our silence.