A dark abyss.
If someone were to ask me where I was on August 9, 2014 – before I received news that yet another black man had been a victim of state-sanctioned violence –that’s my answer.
A dark abyss.
I was on the brink of giving up on my existence, growing tired of life and flirting with death. At the time, every breath I took had seemed so purposeless. I was a college graduate, seeking employment and drowning in debt. Weary due to my search for employment, despite multiple degrees and a well-developed skillset, which had taken well over two years. Feeling helpless because I was certain that the rejection I endured was due to being Black, and due to being a woman. Frustrated with my own God-given body because I knew deep down that it was the reason I could never find the acceptance, in this male-dominated, anti-black society, that would lead to a successful life. “I don’t belong here” were the thoughts that ruled my mind daily. Lonely, without children, just an all round empty life and I had grown tired of wasting time. Falling deeper and deeper into that dark void without making any attempts to grasp anything nearby that would cease gravity from pulling my body further down.
I was gracefully and peacefully accepting the fall.
Out of nowhere, a tweet put me in shock; the kind of shock that would abruptly wake one up from a deep sleep. A young man traumatized that he had witnessed a murder occur in front of him. Not only traumatized at the lifeless body, but confused about why it occurred. “I don’t know. He had his hands up” was all he could say when onlookers asked why was he slain. Reading those words pierced my heart. Eventually, I saw the first protest sign that started it all, “Ferguson Police Department just killed my unarmed son.” I heard the cry of his mother, felt her righteous indignation, and confusion as to why her baby couldn’t have simply been injured, instead of his life being stolen. I watched as unarmed civilians were being confronted with militarized weapons and police gear for objecting to the injustice that occurred in our city. Suddenly, the abyss I was falling in became a small pothole – I just stepped right out of it and into the streets in protest for Black life. I had no choice but to take action, and eventually I became that unarmed citizen looking down the gun barrels of those called to protect and serve me.
I spent this past year spewing this idea that Black lives actually matter, in contrast to society’s generally held belief that they don’t. In August 2014, I shouted these words on behalf of Michael Brown Jr. That his life mattered, that he was loved, that I loved him and loved all that God intended for him to become. I shouted these words on behalf of my comrades that faced those assault rifles with me in response to our cries for justice. Their life mattered to me, because as a Christian, I knew that their lives mattered to God. As a Believer, I felt it was my sole duty to be willing to sacrifice my life for other people by courageously facing adversity, no matter if it looked like assault rifles, dogs, flash bombs, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and tear gas.
Their lives matter to the One I serve, and that’s all I need to know about them. However, it took approximately nine months before I could say the words “Black Lives Matter” with a personal conviction about my own life.
This year of protest has been healing and renewing for me. These protests revitalized me. “Love God and love people” have been the new thoughts to rule in my mind. This year has been the year of new definitions, how I define success, how I define myself, how I define all aspects of love, it’s all revolutionized now. I’ve navigated away from what society says we “should” value, keeping in mind that this is the same society that devalues me. This same society caused me to internalize that devaluation. This year of protest has been the year of purpose. The year of community. The year of democracy. The year of blackness. This year of protest is the year that I understood that Black Lives Matter, Black Love Matters, and Black Liberation Matters, and all of that that applies to me too.
Angel Carter is an activist dedicated to freedom work for all people. Professionally, she is a writer and social justice event planner. Angel has many roles, but prioritizing self care in the Ferguson Movement has been one of her most prominent.