I Am Black And Tired

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I Am Black And Tired
Photo: Julio Cortez, AP Photo

George Floyd was murdered by the police, and I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to work, to write, or to live since then.

I’ve felt like I’ve lost my ability to write. For the entire day I thought, “I can’t do this.” All my attempts to write something significant devolved into ‘a not-brief history of racism and video game companies’ or ‘games to play when you’re Black and sick of being murdered by cops.’

I didn’t want to write that. It felt like an attempt to mould this tragedy and all the violence that’s spun out from it into something on topic for clicks. But every post I tried to write that didn’t address this moment, especially when I’ve been afforded the privilege to reach wide swathes of people, felt like fiddling while Rome burns.

And I realise now that’s ok.

I choose to ignore the conditioning all Black writers suffer from—the impulse that tells them they must speak during moments like these—so I can play Animal Crossing, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, and Battle Chef Brigade.

Because I’m Black and Tired. And, right now, that’s all I want to do—it’s all I can do.

I’m sad and afraid and fighting back a general feeling of hopelessness. My comforts right now are the people I work with and their overwhelming support, my community and their abundance of love, and the joyful, weird way Toad says “Ready for adventure!” before the start of every puzzle.

Non-Black people: check in on your Black friends (and if you don’t have any, maybe examine why that is). Listen to them, make space for their feelings, and give them a place to grieve. Do not ask your Black friends “What can I do?” That’s what Google is for. And anyone else who may be thinking ‘what does this have to do with video games’—fuck you.

As I type this, the Animal Crossing theme jingles on my Switch, making me tear up. It’s a signal; it tells me that whenever I return, I will be safe there (wasps and scorpions nonwithstanding.)

Black people: find your own safety, whether that be in protesting, gaming, or just getting through the day. Toni Morrison said, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”

I got caught up in the distraction of racism as I agonized over what to write. I chose instead to play. However you choose to process your pain—whether it’s through activism or picking weeds off your island—is valid. You matter. Your life matters. Ms. Morrison’s words are a demand to live as distraction-free as you can.

Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Comments

  • and if you don’t have any, maybe examine why that is

    I have absolutely no idea why, I’ve never been to school with or had the opportunity to work with, that in itself is probably a why question

    • Enh. Depends where you live. In the US, a little over one in every ten people is black. In Australia, you’d go through eight of those groups of ten and not find any until the ninth group. It’s not quite the same. Still, never hurts to do a little introspection. A probably more relevant question might be asking how many in your circle of friends are Asian, for example, which is a much more comparable demographic for this part of the world.

        • Initially I thought, ‘yeah, at least’, but now I think that might revise to ‘Probably pretty close.’ Looks like census puts ‘ancestry’ claims to a little under 30%? Better example for the kind of introspection the article politely suggests, anyway.

    • I have had only a few black friends in my life. only one close one. he’s in prison for murder. (which says not every black person is a saint that should be a friend either) It’s not as if there are massive amounts of them around. plenty of indians and chinese. a fair few philo’s around. Australia doesn’t have a huge black population. in fact most Africans I’ve met are white South Africans. Just how things are really.

      the question itself is asinine. I could easily ask why if you don’t have any Korean friends you should examine why. honestly the article itself reads as ‘I didn’t want to write about being a black guy but, I realised that people expect me to say something so, let’s not rock the boat.’

  • It felt like an attempt to mould this tragedy and all the violence that’s spun out from it into something on topic for clicks.

    You don’t say…

      • Remember the riots when that police officer murdered the Australian woman? Me neither.
        #alllivesmatter.
        How about that police officer that was killed by a rioter?
        #alllivesmatter.

        • Yes, all lives matter.

          That’s WHY black lives matter – because so often society treats them like they don’t.

          • which society? literally everyone I have ever met agrees that it doesn’t matter if you are black or white injustice is injustice. pretty much everywhere I go online also agrees. that’s the problem people cherry pick some tweets or videos here and there.

            there are definitely problems sure, but exploding things out of proportion, then rioting and hurting people only creates more problems. in fact the riots are only going to reaffirm any racist beliefs people might hold because ‘well theys acting like a bunch of savages. can’t even protest right’. not my opinion but, that how these people will take it. in the end any progress made in previous years is only going to be set back. anyone who listens to the preachers were already part of the choir at that point.

        • Yeah, I remember those protests.

          And police officers killed by rioters? Heh, forn whatever it’s worth those were black lives too.

          Not sure, exactly, what point you are trying to make here, but it’s actually pretty simple: All of the incidents you’ve referenced had or will have the full force of the law directed against the perpetrators, whereas George Floyd’s killers would have got off scot free if there hadn’t been a video and there hadn’t been protests, just like the hundreds of other black men and women killed every year by US police forces whose killers didn’t even receive a reprimand.

    • The fact that you feel the need to cynically dismiss as click bait a thoughtful piece about a defining moment in US history that has been dominating the front pages of media outlets around the world for a week now says far more about you than it says about the article.

  • Thank you for this.
    I’m not African-American so I can’t even begin to understand what you are going through at the moment.
    I am queer though and I remember the shit so many of my friends had to go through during the marriage vote (not to mention before that for just being themselves). I’ve also had friends of mine berated in the media by a local right wing nut job politician for part of a queer event I helped organise.
    I have been what many would call “radical left” my whole life (actually getting more radical as I get older).
    And “I am tired” sums up so much of what I have been feeling recently.
    Even before this recent bout of “holy shit the world is collapsing”.
    I am so tired. It seems that we have been fighting a losing battle for years. As those in power and control continue to push an agenda that demonizes minorities, hates poor people and only cares about making the 1% more wealthy. And those that should be allies listen and believe the rhetoric, fighting each other for the scraps from the lords table.
    All I can do now is try and focus on my family and friends and make sure they’re ok. Do things to keep myself sane and healthy.
    And I also need to realise that it’s ok if that’s all I can do. That it’s ok to take time out and focus on myself for a while. Because if i don’t I will burn out and not be of use to anyone.
    Anyway, that ended being longer than I expected.
    Do what you have to do and be safe.

    • Sorry you’re tired, man. I’m glad if you can find a way that works for you to live your best life despite the shit-show.

      I guess it can cut either way… My brother came out when he was in high school, and all through his teens and 20s he was pretty ambivalent around activism. He had this kind of attitude of, “Being gay is normal. The dinosaurs are dying out, people are getting with the program, yeah there’s bigots but I’m succeeding despite them, I’m fine.”

      Fast forward a couple decades and he’s confessed to getting angrier and angrier, more activist than when he was a younger man. Because people have not got with the program. The bigots are still trying to fight his success, and he is over it. It was supposed to have been a problem with people who were old and out of touch in the 90s who are now elderly/dead/irrelevant. But they passed their bigotry on to their kids, and their kids’ kids, and it’s still a big fucking problem.

      Whether your solution is living well, happy and safe, or fighting the fight, I wish the best for anyone who tries to find a little justice and humanity in this unconscionably unjust and inhumane world.

  • You know we live in a democracy. If people want to change the laws of that democracy or effect real change then go and build a party out of all these supporters you have. The ones who put their banners on FB, Twitter and hashtags. I’m tired too. Tired of telling people if they want to effect change then they have the means.

    If you don’t like the status quo then get your community united. What I see in the violent and destructive protests isn’t people fighting for others memories but people who are not united who aren’t working towards one common purpose to unite their country and effect real change in their communities. They have the power to do that, thats what elections are for in a democracy. You want to change the people at the top. Then become the people at the top.

    We live in societies that allow people to make their own change. Its hard, its challenging but if your community is united in that goal to effect change then its possible. Possible to do without the violence and destruction. Possible to do peacefully.

    • but violence and destruction and looting is far easier, and will apparently earn you sympathy and support.

    • You’ve focussed on the made-for television scenes of smashed windows and not the literally thousands of peaceful protests, albeit some of which have later been described as ‘riots’ after being broken up by militarised police with tear gas and riot shields simply because the president wants a photo opp in front of a church.

      The implication that black communities are ‘not united’ because some black people have been seen looting shops is, frankly, the kind of racism that the protests are fighting against. You may as well argue that white Australians are ‘not united’ because of outlaw motorcycle gangs and Tony Mokbel.

      But look, it’s easy to make a bunch of trite assertions about what is ‘possible’ on a computer game blog, because you know, you’re the expert here on fighting for social justice and political change, amiright? Except you aren’t the one who has been fighting this exact same fight for equality for more than three centuries.

      Setting aside systematic voter disenfranchisement, America is indeed a ‘democracy’, which means that you need 50%+1 of the population to agree with you (more, in practice, because of a combination of malapportionment and gerrymandering in the US). Unfortunately, African Americans represent just 12% of the US population. On the other hand, a not insignificant percentage of the remainder have a strong vested interest in the status quo. In political science this problem is known as the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

      But seriously, despite your assertions to the contrary, the current protests are largely not ‘riots’, and they are in fact making a difference. We know this by the literally thousands of substantial statements, and much concrete action, in support of them from organisations as diverse as Electronic Arts and the Catholic Church.

      • I didn’t say all protests were riots. I said all riots were riots. All Looters are looters. If you don’t think you can get people on side with discussion and reason then you already lost. I’m not claiming to be the expert. Just like you and everyone else on here I’m giving an opinion.

        EA, Disney and the rest of hollywood are in it for what they can do to make their company look good. Did you miss the racism in disney’s posters?

        Also you call me out as a racist but I said nothing of the sort nor did I classify anyone who is protesting peacefully as a rioter and looter. You put those words in there not I. You may need to look inwards.

        • I didn’t call you racist. I explained that it’s racist of you to draw grossly generalised, sweeping statements about the unity or otherwise of the black community because you watched some TV and saw some people with black skin looting. That, in fact, is the definition of racism. You need to go back and read your own post again.

          I also implied that it was exceedingly patronising, possibly even a bit racist, of you to sit in your comfortable Australian armchair spouting meaningless platitudes about how black America needs to sort itself out before it can solve its centuries old problems. I’m sure they’ll be really grateful to hear your three paragraph solution. Perhaps you should send a black American an email to let them know, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled. If only they’d had the benefit of your advices 300 years ago, eh?

    • Yes, let them create their little grassroots political party. Let that party fight their message against the established parties who, quite literally invest hundreds of millions of dollars in targetted advertising, massive rallies, and huge events. Let that party combat their monstrous propaganda machine which will dig every scrap of real or imaginary dirt from decades in the past, or decontextualized quote, or maliciously misinterpreted belief of anybody even tangentially related to the movement and blast it to all heavens through the aforementioned channels in manipulative appeals to emotion or fearmongering. Let it weather on its own the corrosive effect of the well-documented effort of hostile foreign superpowers blasting disinformation through social media.

      Let that valiant little party who could try to amplify their message through nakedly biased mass media channels which will diminish every accomplishment or objectively good proposal while propping up the party they align with. Let their pleas try to achieve a momentous paradigm shift in an overwhelmingly tribalistic, centuries-old self-defining adherence of the common people to the two mainstream parties. Let the people who will nevertheless hear their message and will try to vote for them face several attempts of voter suppression or electoral fraud.

      More importantly, let them try, on their own, to change the mentality of the significant amount of people who due to biased thinking, racism or plain ignorance happily put in charge a hateful clown and to the day support him religiously and zealously vote in November to the last man and woman for him.

      And what would you say, then, if they didn’t manage to overcome such massively stacked odds? “Welp, I guess your cause was not as important as you thought, the people have spoken! Now lie down on the curb and outstretch those necks really far to be knelt on. But hey, you’ll go knowing that you did try your best, playing the game as it was meant to be played: by the rules of the people who got you in this situation to begin with.”?

  • Bitch, bitch, bitch. Live is hard for everyone, the difference being everyone else keeps their head down and works through it not looking for excuses.

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