With the Devil at her Door: Notes on Jemele Hill and Korryn Gaines


636410985778596594-2017-09-15-jemele-hillJemele Hill must feel kind of like Korryn Gaines when she had the devil at her door demanding her submission in exchange for her life. But what is a life with no soul, what is a body with no heart, and how can one speak with no tongue?


They are afraid of a black woman with a rifle in her hand willing to kill to protect her son, to protect her freedom, to protect her dignity. And the police in Baltimore County Maryland felt like they needed all of that force to serve a warrant for a misdemeanor.


They are deathly afraid of a black woman that they can’t control. A sista that won’t be quiet. A sista that doesn’t want to twerk. A sista that doesn’t want to be their fantasy. A sista that knows that her place is at the top of the throne no matter what that throne is made of, like Queen Nzinga. A sista with opinions that she isn’t afraid to share. And ESPN scolded Jemele like a child, then suspended her for two weeks for telling the truth on two different occasions.


Well, if Ebonics be thy first language then let truth be thy second. My mother taught me how to stand in direct opposition to corruption. My mother showed me that the black woman is the embodiment of resilience. My mother showed me love. My mother taught me how to speak and my mother taught me how to listen. My mother spoke softly, my mother screamed loudly and sometimes my mother chose to be silent. No man could ever force her to be submissive, and no job ever succeeded in shutting her up—though many of them tried. So maybe she didn’t get that promotion and maybe they didn’t deem her to be a “team” player. Maybe she has had to suffer more and maybe she is paid less.


And one may ask why couldn’t my mother just be a good worker and go along with the company program? Why didn’t Jemele Hill just stop tweeting altogether? Why couldn’t Korryn Gaines just put her gun down and have a rational conversation with the police? Why didn’t Sandra Bland just put out her cigarette? Why couldn’t Miss Sofia just be a nanny for that white lady’s kids in The Color Purple? Why did she have to say hell no?


To this I would say no one should have to sacrifice their humanity to make you feel comfortable. No one should have to give up their rights to make you feel safe. No one should have to give up their voice in order for you to feel complacent. And at times it seems as though the black woman gave birth to a world that has been trying to destroy her ever since. Jemele Hill has been suspended as if she were in grammar school and Korryn Gaines was murdered in her apartment in front of her 5-year-old son by the police. And all because instead of looking down at their feet they chose to look power directly in the eyes. They both spoke truth to a culture built upon lies, and they spoke this truth with the devil at their door.


“they threw me a charge too late, got my “Big Girl” September of last year. Legit w/papers. Thought i was gon have to take out a nigga nd realized i had a bigger problem. Fuck it Let’s dance, i got some rhythm”


-Korryn Gaines





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