“That’s Not A Chip On My Shoulder. That’s Your Foot On My Neck” — Malcolm X
Ever notice the necks of Black people are of particular interest to white people? As a Black — Japanese heritage woman, I have noticed this.
Remember George Floyd. There was particularly forceful and deadly attention put on his neck.
Yes, the human neck is an impressive sight to behold. Some Asian and African cultures have a tradition where they honor the neck by wearing neck rings to create the appearance of a stretched neck. An elongated neck is the ideal of beauty.
The neck houses two beautiful attributes of being human: our unique voices and the pulse of our beating heart. The neck is a highly flexible home to an anatomical highway that elegantly directs arteries to supply blood to our brain from our heart and orchestrates nerves to carry essential information from our brain to our body when it is left untouched.
The human neck is vital to our survival. History has documented many events where the enactment of a crime was upon the precious necks of Black people.
Have you noticed that white people, while putting their focus on the necks of Black people, often become so angry that they could wring Black people’s throats? Racist acts of hate and violence have become way more than a “pain in the neck” for Black people.
The Black neck has been brutalized, attacked, assaulted, and debased during crimes of racial hate
- Enslaving Black people with chains around their necks. (Remember slavery.)
- Lynching Black people by hanging a noose around their necks. (Remember many. Some say Sandra Bland.)
- Slashing the necks of Black people. (Remember James Byrd and others.)
- Using barbed wire to attach a heavy fan blade around the neck of Black people. (Remember Emmett Till.)
- Decapitating the head from the neck of Black People. (Remember Jeremy Jackson and others.)
- Putting a choke hold around the neck of Black people. (Remember Eric Gardner and others.)
These are examples of complete irreverence- the mistreatment, ravaging, desecration, and violation of the Black body by using the Black neck as the prime location to enact a reign of racist terrorizing. Malcolm X said, “That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck”.
Undoubtedly, there may be examples of white necks being used as the place to inflict and incite fear and control over white people. I just do not know any. The history of racism is breathing down our collective necks.
Yet there is also immeasurable hope and possibility! I know that for sure. Humans are gifted with a neck that supports the weight of a head with a mind capable of creative solutions. A brain that knows what is possible. A brain that knows how to dismantle racism.
It is not too late. Ever watch a turtle? They can only move forward by sticking their neck out.
What I see from my particular neck of the woods is we are in this together. Inextricably. Indivisibly. We are intrinsically connected. We cannot get there without one other. All necks are on the line.
Therefore, to my white brothers and sisters, it is now time to put your attention on your white neck. To dismantle racism, stick your neck out- stick your White neck out. Put your neck on the line. Put your good white neck on the line.
Speak out as if your life, your family’s life, and your children’s necks depend upon it. And it does. Stand up to anti-Black hate by enlisting other white people to join you at your hip. Reclaim your courage and intervene to stop the pain and suffering of Blacks. Follow the leadership of Black people. Dismantle white supremacy at its base.
And stop your entitlement to Black bodies.
Take courageous stands, over and over, with your outstretched white neck powered by the strength of your red heart pumping and quarterbacked by the white and grey matter of your brain wired for equity and equality. Stick your white neck out when Black necks are on the line. Stand in the pocket.
And to my precious Black brothers and sisters: take back and claim our regal necks at the base of our majestic heads atop our magnificent bodies as we live our significant Black lives. We so matter. We are Conjointly Human: Inextricably Con’neck’ted.