Fear Is Black

by Asamoah


One of the first times that I became aware of the effects of my blackness was on one particular day, when I boarded an RTD bus in Boulder to make my way home after class. I sat in the first seat I saw, which was right next to a little white girl about five years of age. As soon as I sat down, she hopped up from her seat and walked right across to the man I presumed to be her father. She did not take her eyes off of me throughout the whole bus ride. As I made my way off the bus, I turned my head to see an old white lady now occupying the seat I sat in with the little girl right beside her. Her eyes met mine, and then left them immediately.



I met my friend at our apartment pool, where he saw me sitting alone and invited me to join his family barbeque. We started riding the school bus together. One morning, he never showed up to the bus stop. I saw him during lunch at school, and that was when he told me that he accidently locked himself out of his apartment and was waiting for his mother to bring him her keys. He was pacing back and forth in front of someone’s balcony when the cops showed up. They said they received a call from a lady who felt threated by a “big black man” pacing in front of her balcony.



What is it about darkness that creates fear? It’s the blackness in the darkness. With blackness we cannot see danger—all the things we fear. In the dark, we imagine the scariest things. As a child, I used to turn off the lights and quickly run to my bed at night, hoping that my covers would shield me from all the fears that manifest in the darkness.



/’fir/ n. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous. I fear the slight chance that I will not succeed in my career path. I fear that I will get fat and unhealthy. I fear any height greater than 10ft. I do not fear anyone. I do not fear any color.



In elementary school, my friends and I would call out the color of our skin. They would say, “I’m black.” When it was my turn, I would say that I was brown. Technically, I was “brown” but truthfully, I didn’t want to be seen as black. I feared the negative stereotypes. “Dark skin girls are not pretty,” they would say. I internalized that one for years, until I was able to build up my self-esteem.


JOB 3:5

“Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it”.[1] This is one out of many of the references that link fear with darkness and darkness with blackness. The association of fear with black is automatic through what they teach us at a young age. In elementary school, I learned about emotions through association with color. I matched red with love, yellow was happy, blue was sad, green was neutral and black with fear. The teacher told me I did well. Those associations have stuck with me since.



Can’t we associate black with love? How would we associate black with love? I know of one association called “black love.” It is love between black couples.



This word came up when I searched, “fear of black.” It means a fear of or hatred toward black people. I knew of the definition, but I did not know there was a word for it. It might be just a word, but to me, it brings into reality the idea that someone may hate or fear me because of my race.



He was the change that people feared. Some said he was not the right person to represent the country. Others said he was not even a citizen. They questioned his ability to do the job. They never questioned the citizenship of presidents 1-43 nor president 45. They did not expect him to come as far as he did; he was black.



I did not believe in this act until I heard the stories from those who were pulled over. In NY, during the 90’s, my dad lost count of the amount of times he was pulled over. He told me he never felt safe on the road. All the times he had been pulled over he was told that his car was mistaken for being under warrant or that they were just patrolling the road. They would shine their flashlights in his car and then they would let him go. What were they looking for?



Why did Serena Williams face so many more obstacles than her white counterparts? She was more than good enough, but they could not see past her blackness. They feared the idea that someone like her could be one of the best. She proved herself a thousand times over and now they fear her game.



In my predominantly white childhood neighborhood, my house was the first black house that stood on Jebel Street. No one could tell that black people lived inside it except on the days my father came out to cut the grass or the days my brother and I came out to play basketball. After about a year in this neighborhood, the white family next door became the black family next door. After three years, there was only one white family left on Jebel Street.



As a child, there were times where I did not want to be black. I did not want to be feared. I did not want to have to prove myself over and over. But I know now, that I am not the problem. The problem is how they see me. I want to be seen, but without fear. Sometimes, I want to yell, “Why do you fear Black? Why do you fear me?”

[1] The Holy Bible. King James Version, The Floating Press, 2008.