In the modern era, the term escapism is used to describe the coping mechanisms used by people who are unable to deal with the everyday rigor of life, which is described as mentally retreating to a place outside of reality whether voluntarily or otherwise. Examples of this can be seen in social media, movies, video games, etc.
For Black people especially, it can be argued that escapism is sometimes needed to distract from the multitudes of different entities that exist that have proven to be harmful to Black people. On April 20, 2021 however, there was no way to escape our shared demons.
It’s no breaking news what 4/20 represents to many people within the United States, and as it relates to escapism, there’s perhaps no greater example of the lengths that we go to in order to maintain peace in the face of adversity. On that day as the usual festivities take place across the country, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts of murder in the case of George Floyd.
In any other instance, that day at that moment in time should have been escapism made flesh as celebrations for ‘justice’ and the likes erupted through the country. As another Black child was shot down in cold blood not even hours before the verdict was announced however, all I could feel was fatigue.
As a young man myself, that reality is that regardless of my own feelings on the struggle that our people have continuously faced, the thought of life at war and never seeing a conclusion, yet alone victory, weighs on me. Credit it to the short-attention spans associated with this generation, but in a fight where there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t the fight itself begin to lose its appeal after a while?
So as the death of 15-year old Ma’Khia Bryant circulated Twitter around the time the Chauvin verdict was announced, I allowed myself to feel satisfaction for ‘justice’, and yet, it still felt as though we’d taken another loss.
I’m not here to mimic Nancy Pelosi and thank the murdered for sacrificing their lives for the ‘greater good’, because ultimately, these deaths could have all been prevented. Instead, when I feel the sorrow growing in my heart for the fallen who share skin tones similar to my own, I’m reinvigorated to continue the fight.
It’s difficult, because in this war, there’s no one bad guy hiding in the lair with his finger to the doomsday weapon, but rather, it’s the system itself; the same system that has systematically imprisoned and killed our sons and daughters for centuries. So to answer my own question: Yes, I’m tired of the fight and the struggle, but I’m also tired of seeing the same story on the news every night, and to that end, I continue moving forward.
Escapism can be a beautiful thing, and a necessary tool to keep your head cool when the world is one fire, but no matter how far you go, you’ll eventually have to return home to the reality of the situation.
We all have our escapes; whether it be media, our phones, and even the occasional herb intake, but the revolution has been, and will forever be, taking place on the streets. For as long as black blood continues to be spilt unjustly by bigots and state sponsored thugs, the fight will continue, and regardless of how many wins or losses we must endure, we owe it to those who haven’t seen the dawn to at least try to make it through the night.