I Don't Matter
I fall under the powerless majority category.
Although there are plenty like me, we are routinely described as minorities. Although there are plenty like me, many of us are divided and therefore languish in powerlessness. Although there are plenty like me, I am unwelcome in many places because of my color.
Several years ago I was in a committed relationship, we were in love; however, our love had zero to do with her father’s warning. He threatened to cut her off if she married anyone with dark skin. His skin wasn’t dark, but it wasn’t pale, either. Wherever I go, it seems that I am judged first by the color of my skin.
That is why I don’t matter.
There is a sense of despair that follows me around wherever I go. I can’t help but notice the sorry conditions that are often indicative of an area where Black people live. It perturbs me to associate White with nice and neat, and Black with squalor. Unfortunately, all too often, that’s what I see. Others must see this, too, and perhaps make the same associations, which surely adds to my insignificance. This is nothing new.
The Message was written in 1982, three years before I was born, and The Message is still relevant today.
I don’t matter.
I’m tired of seeing brothers, fathers, and sons lose. I see them lose their homes, families, and their lives. The despair is heavy. Colt 45 and MD 20/20 are common litter where I exist, tossed to the ground after use. In typical fashion when the going gets tough, a liquor store is always nearby. White Owls are purchased, their contents wasted: roll, light, smoke.
I’m tired of seeing sisters, mothers, and daughters taken, abandoned, and broken down. Their classification is disturbing — to the bottom rung of society you go, Black woman. Just like the ones who bore me, I don’t matter.
I am desperate.
I work for crumbs; my bootstraps are tattered. American dream success is beyond my foreseeable reach. White picket fences and manicured lawns where the grass is greener scream vanity at this point. I just want to live without the threat of homelessness looming overhead. I work 48 hours per week. Is it too much to ask to be paid a living wage? Is it too much to ask to receive free health care, just in case I get severely burned working around 200–400 degree temperatures? Rent is expensive, not to mention mortgages, or land. Ownership is power, and I am merely an employee.
I don’t matter.
In the same way that my ancestors who survived the gruesome Middle Passage didn’t want to be doomed chattel, I don’t want to be a doomed laborer. I was raised by people who were trying to escape dejected environments. I remember being a young kid, knowing that we didn’t have enough money to escape. We didn’t have enough money or resources to move to where violence didn’t erupt at random. I had to endure the DC public school system that was, at the time, the worst in the country.
In the sixth grade my homeroom teacher hid under a desk.
My family and I weren’t the only ones trying to escape. I never stop thinking of ways to get out of this place, but the cost to leave is astronomical. My ancestors who were enslaved could at one point purchase their freedom. I feel that callousness. When the tormented captive must pay the tormentor, how sick has life become?
If I could reach out to every, last person within the powerless majority, I would encourage them to put a portion of their earnings in a safe place so, one day, the money can be used to uplift our communities from rapid decay. Many of us do work very hard, yet, we are overworked and underpaid. That is insulting, that is depressing, that is exhausting, and it induces wasting away in front of the TV, computer, or finding some other distraction. We can’t afford to be distracted anymore.
I don’t matter.
I am only one person who is being crushed by the same system that crushes others like me. So, is it too much to ask that we work together to counter it?