On Lauren Smith-Fields– A Black Female Rant

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An unsettling fact made the news before George Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict. The fact was that a slain, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin lay in the morgue for days before authorities notified anyone of his death (he was identified after Martin’s father filed a Missing Person’s report). The information circulated from empowered social media sources elucidated the glaring indifference to which black life remains subjected during our time on earth and after our earthly departure. A similar fact revealed itself in the instance of Lauren Smith-Fields.

Smith-Fields was a twenty-three-year-old college student who took to online dating like countless others. Unfortunately, the choice would prove fatal. Her earthly departure would equate to silence for her family, who would search to learn what formal investigators refused to acknowledge. After completing their search, the Smith-Fields family learned that their sister and daughter transitioned the day before. Though ruled “accidental” due to the substances in her system, the family would find pills, a used condom, and a bloody sheet in her apartment. Clearly, the police did not investigate the scene, her death an inconvenience to a truth that will likely remain relegated to selective amnesia.

I convey this information to underscore that although this country parades the murdered black man as a portrait of justice, justice does not exist for black people in America. Murder can never be a symbol of justice because if there were justice, these murderers would be an aberration not a daily occurence. Even in the case of Smith-Fields, many call for justice, but how can we call for justice when black people remain removed from common courtesy? In both instances, it was too much of an inconvenience to acknowledge a murder that would prompt many to wonder: how did they die?

Additionally, while the deluded continue to equate freedom as the right to pursue proximity to those of the majority, Smith-Fields elucidates an often understated reality that corresponds to interracial dating. Now, I stand by the idea that who you love is a portrait of you are and what you value, but more so, to love, befriend, date or marry out of your race, also subjects the African in America to an imbalance of power that may prove fatal. The contemporary world is quick to label the African espoused to “black love” as “separatist” and “racist” to distort the colonial intentions and preclude black agency to pursue relationships of equal footing. I mean here that to engage in a relationship of any sort with those of the majority, or the African-adjacent at large, is to embark on a relationship of fatal imbalance. Had the tables been turned in the Smith-Fields case, she’d be a female version of Richard Wright’s Bigger Thomas, a daughter native to colonial trauma but embodied as a licentious wench with a wicked womb of terror. The story would vindicate white terrorism with the caricatured black woman as an enemy of the state with the power to birth those who must be extinguished with bullets to protect us all.

The ingredients of the case posit sexual assault as a feasible, yet this possibility is only explored in colloquial exchanges of those who resemble Smith-Fields. Even amidst the facade of “me too” being universal to address the concerns of all women, black women remain reluctantly acknowledged as susceptible to rape by white men. Thus, it remains convenient to paint Smith Fields as a drug user than a young woman in search of a good time, but in receipt of sexual assault. Thus, trust remains an issue for any person of African descent who remains subject to the racism of fiction turned into the fact by the news and other media, and being forced to believe what we know to be false or labeled “crazy” or a “conspiracy theorist.” We know Sandra Bland, like Sam Cooke, Malcolm X, and Dr. King, amongst countless other black people, did not die the way they said or by who they pinned the murder on, yet were remain coerced to choke down lies and live as if it was “mercy” that brought us from our pagan land.* Forced to occupy a space that is more likely to arrest or censure me for writing this post than to arrest and interrogate who the authorities know murdered this woman, or, at the very least, pursued a cruel intentions that turned fatal (causation).

Like Audre Lorde says in her poem “Power,” “ I cannot touch the destruction within me.” And because I can’t, an inner fire takes its place; it is this fire that avenges the wrong. No, its not the flame that eats you up inside and ages you prematurely; rather, this heat that exists beyond a simmer, and its blaze of glory makes it impossible to forget and unthinkable to forgive. This inner heat warms a body chilled by the coldness of a cruel nation, and thaws the icicles of colonial fiction to not lose sight of a truth that is unlikely to ever see the “light.” Thus, darkness is the bearer of truth; it is our canvass and the “darkness” of our collective memory that allows us to hear what will never be said and know what we’ll never formally learn.

Furthermore, these tagged toes and Jane Does subjected to America’s inhumanity mirror the unidentified bodies turned into atoms that still ornament the Atlantic Ocean.* Together, they are reminders of what we mean to our oppressors while simultaneously serving as constellations to what we must always mean to ourselves.

Ase.

  • Here, I quote Phyllis Wheatley’s Poem “On Being Brought from Africa to America.”

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thelma Black says:

    Beautifully written as per usual. It’s beyond exhausting and depressing how much of our experience in this country is saturated with our blood and limitless tears of trying to survive. What a tragedy for such a young absolutely beautiful young queen. May she and all the others RIP

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