By Madalyn McKnight
I love everyone, but I am a textbook introvert who prefers solitude. I am a proud loner, who only (for the most part) enjoys a Beyoncé concert and a movie. If it was not for my best friend, I would either travel alone or not at all. As you can imagine, I mainly stay away from large crowds and gatherings with limited security. No matter where I am, I always mark my exit strategy. I work with the public, so security is always a concern, even if it comes at an inconvenience. The recent raids of Mississippi food processing plants and mass shootings at various places around the country deepen my belief that the boogeyman could be my next-door neighbor. I have more to worry about going to make groceries than I do traveling to some parts of the world.
From the day this country was stolen from the Natives, my skin has made me a target. I live in a part of the deep south that has progressed a lot further than a lot of the country would want to believe but still has an extremely long way to go. Where I live, the night life scene is blossoming and expanding. Big businesses show interest in the vast land and location in proximity to major ports, but there are still places so rural that one street houses multiple generations of one family. There are still restaurants operating that once fed delicious meals to civil rights leaders. There is a seemingly nice comfortable balance, but now I have more reason to say a prayer before going into a retail store to get toothpaste and feminine products. Mississippi has the highest percentage of black residents of any states in this country, but let the leadership and ideologies tell it, the truth is otherwise. That statistic blows my mind! The boogeyman smiles in my face every day but is capable of more than just systematic oppression.
The rhetoric of this country’s leadership enables a stranger to arm themselves and gun down innocent Americans. And in spite of thoughts and prayers, this world is in an alarming state, but apparently not alarming enough for leadership to take action. This is disheartening but not news to anyone who can comprehend current events. Since the Declaration of Independence was signed, the disenfranchised have had their issues looked over and dismissed. The difference now is that home-bred terrorists have used race and privilege as a reason the blood of the innocent has had to further taint the soil we live on. Their families cry out for change but go unheard.
My anxiety peaks in every major crowd, airport, and now grocery store. It’s a fear I have learned to live with when I navigate places on a daily basis. It’s a sad reality that I have had to accept, and I do not want to imagine what event would have to occur to combat the issues this country has and enact real change. Until then I keep my eyes and ears open. I never know what my neighbor is capable of.
Madalyn McKnight is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A rare blackbird who has the range and a young black professional with impactful words! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @singsongblackbird and twitter @singsongblckbrd