The Gentrification of Black Pain
the process of making a person or activity more refined or polite. (Oxford Dictionary)
On the heels of America’s federal holiday acknowledging one of the chief magnates of genocide and gentrification, another Black body has been prematurely snatched from the earth. Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year old Black woman was gunned down in her home Saturday night by a white male police officer in Fort Worth, Texas - she was caring for her eight-year old nephew at the time.
I struggled to write this piece because I am so damn tired of our lives becoming designated hashtags with collective calls to say a name. But once I considered the work of civil rights journalist, newspaper owner and activist Ida B. Wells, I paused. Wells initiated an anti-lynching campaign in 1892, 15 years post-Reconstruction after three Black men were killed. Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart opened a grocery store in Memphis much to the contempt of white men in the area. After having their store vandalized repeatedly and defending it from white trespassers with force, Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart were arrested, taken to jail and murdered March 9, 1892. Three Black men slain for earning a living and existing.
The history of lynchings and state sanctioned murders of Black citizens in this country is tethered to slave patrols – the statute given to white men to control the activities and behavior of Black bodies through policing. Although slave patrols were outlawed in 1865, the inherent practice of governing Black bodies vis-à-vis law enforcement is exercised daily.
Atatiana Jefferson should not be a hashtag. She should not be a call to action. She was not a “necessary flower for God’s garden” that He decided to pluck. She was executed. And Atatiana Jefferson is dead in part because of the Christopher Columbus lie of white supremacy – it is still a gentrifier’s preeminent investment.