The Center for Black Progress

My Life is Forfeit

Daily existence within this Black skin weighs on me heavily. I find myself in a constant battle for peace and well-being. What more can I do to combat the constant numbness that sets in with each new Black death?

Daily existence within this Black body weighs on me heavily. I find myself in a constant battle for peace and well-being. Since my “awakening” years ago, my official transition to the (overused and now cliche) status of being “woke” has made it all the more difficult to obtain that peace. When you know, you know. You can’t un-ring a bell!

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.

At 6’5 280 pounds I am considered a threat on sight. I have long since exhausted the grace and delight of the White world now that I no longer use my size to punish men on the football field. My stature–once so prized and well-sought by White coaches, team moms & dads–has become a deadly liability now that my athletic usefulness has expired.

My life is forfeit.

I must now border on near-minstrelsy to ensure that I remain jolly and non-threatening enough to continue co-occupying White spaces. At any moment, I could be fired for being reported as “too aggressive, not the right fit.” I could be labeled as an extremist, as a “reverse-racist” (*eye roll*) simply for loving myself and My People. How dare I? I could be killed for something as foolish as a sudden sneeze, if that sneeze causes a White citizen or policeman to “fear for their lives” and “stand their ground.” At any point, an annoyed White woman can choose to weaponize my own Blackness against me. She can mobilize the full force and violence of the state, simply to rid herself of the inconvenience of my existence. And she knows it.

How can I delude myself into thinking that I am different from Jonathan Ferrell? Have I not engaged in the same activities as Tamir Rice and John Crawford III? Why do I deserve to live and they don’t? Haven’t I been pulled over like Sandra Bland? Couldn’t anyone be Yvette Smith? Wait, do I deserve to live? I believe so, but I seem to be in the minority, in more ways than one. How long will it be before my number is called in the ever-growing line of those whose causes of death were “unfortunate Blackness?” What is there to stop me from sharing their fates?

My life is forfeit. 


What more can I do to combat the constant mental and emotional numbness that sets in with each new Black death at police hands? What will happen if I disarm this defense mechanism that protects what little sanity I have left? Should I even kid myself that the murderers will even be charged, let alone convicted? That there will be any modicum of value found in a Black life to warrant the slightest empathy for the total loss of existence, identity, impact, and future potential? How many more times must I be inundated with “WhAt AbOuT BlAcK oN BlAcK cRiMe?” Why am I told to place faith in a justice system that has failed US at every level, again and again exactly as it was intended?

My life is forfeit.

What really, does it even mean to be a man? I would like to think that a man is someone who keeps his word above all. I would wager that a man is one who conducts all activities with integrity and accepts responsibility for his actions. Most of all, my ideal of what a man should be is one that answers the call to lead, provide for and protect his family. But how can I hope to raise and safeguard a Black child when even they are perceived as threats as early as pre-school? What lawful tools are at my disposal to protect the honor of my woman while a whole nation devalues her? In this climate, in this never-ending groundhog’s day of Black Destruction due to the most minimal of reasons, how can I tell myself that I exist, truly as a man?

My life is forfeit.

Like the terrorist tactics of White slaveholders, police demonstrate daily that I have no ability to practice manhood within their presence. Any attempts at pride and dignity are subject to summary street judgment and execution by an untouchable agent of the state. No matter my degrees, certifications, salary, job title, zip code, attire, diction or attitude…I am still a threat–on sight. How then, shall a man practice manhood? How, when no level of compliance, legality nor civility protect him? What is a man to do if say, his family is threatened and denigrated right in front of him? What to do, when perfect strangers also laboring within the same Black skin are brutalized, feet from him? What immediate justice or recourse is available to him?

My life is forfeit.

I declare, I am a man. A man that is willing to consider his life forfeit when his “manhood,” when his family–blood or not–is brutalized and criminalized in this police state. I consider it a humanistic duty and cultural mandate to intervene and make clear the respect that my family is due. I will not be a passive witness to another hashtag in the making. I will not allow my woman, my child, my elders, your woman, your child to be abused! I consider it an honor and a privilege to be called into righteous defense of those so often left defenseless. To be clear, I labor under no delusions…I am possessed of the full knowledge that if and when I choose to stand as a man on these principles…

My life is forfeit. 

Asè. I am at peace. Some things are worth dying for.
About the Author
Teryl White, Jr.

Teryl White, Jr.

Teryl is the owner of 3BC, a consulting firm with an online marketplace and business directory dedicated to "conscious consumerism." He has devoted his entire life to the progression of The Culture. In this spirit, Teryl recently founded The Center for Black Progress, which aims to dismantle all obstacles to prosperous Black life worldwide.

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