Each time the media bends over backwards to push the narrative of law enforcement to justify the shootings of unarmed Black people and to frame them as inherent criminals who deserve to be executed, I find myself becoming more and more incredulous at a nation that proves to me every day that the lives of my people carry no value in a white supremacist society bent on returning back to the days when Black people had no rights whites were bound to respect.

The late James Baldwin rightfully opined that to be Black “in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” And who can blame Black folks that are angry at the extrajudicial murder of innocent African Americans at the hands of law enforcement, the unjust criminal justice system, and disparities in health, employment compensation and every other status indicator in these yet-to-be United States of America? Top that off with an open racist for a POTUS and an administration full of white supremacists, and it should be completely understandable why Black folks would be in a consistent state of rage.

Today, for many African Americans, the American Dream seems nothing more than a white myth, or as George Carlin explained, “It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” Yet, if Black folks express justifiable indignation, they are judged to be “angry,” “disrespectful,’ and unappreciative of the generosity of white America. Recently, Reginald Andrade, an employee at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was reported for being ‘and agitated black male’ for simply walking to work. The campus police locked down his building and interrogated him about his supposed ‘agitation.’ Following the traumatizing incident, a white colleague suggested that Andrade ‘smile more.’ Sorry, we don’t feel like smiling.

Yet, we wear public masks that hide our frustration, anger, pain, bewilderment, and angst against a white society that consistently fails to treat us with basic human decency or view us as equals. The majority of white America never seems to do the difficult work of genuine self-reflection, which could bring them closer to understanding white privilege and how Black people have suffered under its vile disregard for our humanity, violence, and bigotry. Sadly, hiding our anger is a required life skill to survive in white supremacist America. Far too many of us must suppress the fact that we have repeatedly suffered attacks on our character, personhood, and families simply because of the color of our skin. We become experts at concealing our anger at such inhumane treatment, yet, at the slightest display of passion or indignation at the racial oppression of Black people in America, a host of white tone police stand at the ready to drag out the ‘angry Black man’ or ‘angry Black woman trope’ to diminish the credibility of our expression and deny us basic human emotions that are afforded to white people.  

White anxiety about ‘angry’ Black people is racist, hypocritical, and unfounded. Black folks have never engaged in racial terrorism, ethnic cleansing, mass violence, lynchings, or widespread retaliation against white people, which would be understandable given how we have suffered at the hands of white society. Whites expect Black folks to magically be resistant to suffering physical pain and discomfort, which explains their callous lack of empathy.  

Perhaps, if just once, white America would honestly contemplate how it would feel if it were subjected to wicked, unjust, racially motivated terror and institutional violence solely based on the color of its skin and what life would be like to live in a society where whites are treated as subhuman, it would understand how justified our anger really is. Anger is a natural response to oppression, mistreatment, poverty, violence, murder, and injustice. To complain about how offensive Black anger is without doing a thing about its root cause is ethically and morally evil. White America would never tolerate the treatment it consistently doles out to Black people. Asking us to hide and suppress our anger is the epitome of white supremacy.