Post Classifieds

Author's words resonate with mother's lesson on violence

By VERSHAY BURKS / VN FEATURES EDITOR
On March 28, 2017

I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” in two days.

I had never read something so powerful about what it means to be black in America.

He articulated so many things that I have felt being among other black bodies, and he still managed to enlighten me.

I have always known that black bodies were historically targets of destruction in America.

From the beginning, blacks were only bodies to be exploited and beaten into submission; we were not people.

For over 400 years, black bodies have been destroyed.

My mother drummed this knowledge into me.

I was immersed as a young child in actual photos of lynchings and of Selma’s Bloody Sunday and of the murder of Emmett Till (an image that still frightens me).

I went to the same high school as Renisha McBride, the young woman shot to death by a white man in Dearborn when she was looking for help after a car accident.

The anguish I felt knowing that I could have been Renisha has not left me. We were only a year apart in age.

The anger and disappointment I have towards the United States judicial system for dropping the charges against Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman for destroying the black bodies of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin remains with me, too.

Through professor Roy Finkenbine, I learned of another black body that was destroyed, that of a man who served as University of Detroit Mercy basketball coach from 1988 to 1993.

His name was Ricky Byrdsong.

While taking a walk with two of his children in a quiet neighborhood in Illinois, he was shot seven times in the back by a young white supremacist.

This happened in 1999. He was only 43.

The story of Coach Brydsong should hit close to home for Detroit Mercy, especially for its students.

How easily a black body can be destroyed is just one of the testaments to the fact that racism is alive, well and looking yet to devour black lives.

When will a black life be valued at the optimal level of a white life?

Black life will be equal once America loses its heritage.

I hope the visit of Ta-Nehisi Coates will wake people to these realities, particularly people of my generation. 

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