“I Can No Longer Keep Quiet” 6
Sayings of an Angry Black Man
As told to Cliff Williams
Don’t destroy yourself by trying to hold on to power. You’re doing it to your own self.
I’m grateful for reading and learning. Reading is important. It’s really important. When you start reading, you find out the truth.
When you start banning books, that means you want to be in a society that doesn’t have knowledge.
I want people to feel safe. The Black community does not feel safe.
I want people to feel safe asking questions without being belittled, because that’s the only way they are going to learn.
All this judging is not good. It’s not good for the culture. It’s not good for the society.
You can’t say what a person is until you’ve walked in their shoes. You can’t say why they do a certain thing until you’ve walked in that same state. Open up your eyes and look.
If you plant seeds of destruction and hate and belittlement, what do you think is going to grow up out of that?
The things we need to think about are things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and excellent. These are what we need to think about.
I don’t like talking about racism, because it makes me mad.
I love Malcolm X. He’s a mentor for me. Someone said to me, “You sound just like Malcolm X. You sound so much alike.”
After George Floyd got killed, I was devastated. I still tear up when I think about it.
I’ve heard White people say, “It’s done. Get over it.” George Floyd’s murder devastated me. I have never seen anything like that in my life, and I pray that I won’t ever see anything like it again. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth for all our law enforcement. A very bad taste.
I don’t trust our police, and that’s Black or White. I don’t trust the system. What made me realize it was both Black and White was when those five Black men killed that Black boy. I just don’t trust the system. The police are going to stick up for each other.
I don’t want them near me. I don’t want them by me. Somebody could break into my house tonight, and as long as I came out alive, I wouldn’t call the police. I would not call them. That’s how devastated I am.
I was sitting on my front porch, and the police asked me for my ID. They asked, “Does the owner of this house know you’re sitting here?” I said, “Yes, because I am the owner.” They still took my ID and ran it. White police officers.
Another story: I went on a jog, and the police pulled me over and asked me why I was running. I had running tights, a T-shirt, and a Walkman in my ears. And the police still stopped me and asked me why I was out running. A White police officer.
Every time I buy a new car, I get pulled over. Every time. Every time. It has happened to me so many times. They just pull me over and run my license. And they never apologize.
This is why I don’t like the police. Those three incidents.
The one who stopped me when I was running asked me, “Have you ever been to jail?” I said, “No, I’ve never been to jail.” He said, “We need to see your ID.” I said, “Here, take it. There’s nothing on me. And I have a good driving record. So, harass me.” It’s totally harassment. That’s why I don’t trust them. And that’s White and Black. I don’t trust them. They’re both part of the system.
White society doesn’t understand that Black people are harassed by the police. I’ve never done anything wrong where I’ve been to jail. So why am I being harassed?
Running while Black. Owning a home while Black. And driving a car while Black.
© 2023 by AJ
Edited by Cliff Williams from a recorded and transcribed conversation with AJ on May 4, 2023. AJ is an African American man who lives in Chicago. He was in his mid-fifties when we talked.
For a list of other sayings in this series, with links, go to "I Can No Longer Keep Quiet."