We are taught that we must be better, smarter, and more polite because Black bodies are seen as worse, ignorant, and dangerous. We must remain on high alert as we navigate our own neighborhoods and are aware of tensions that arise when we walk through others. We are told to respect the police not because they have earned it by being our protectors, but because lack of respect can result in brutality and death. When we do succeed, we are considered exceptional, and when we fail, we are an expected statistic.
We have yet to reach the mundane. Our stories must be triumph or tragic because normalcy is not afforded to us. If we existed in the realm of the average, we would not be seen as a threat until we actually acted as such. If we were afforded normalcy, we would not exist in the extreme margins of society. As it stands, we are Oprah Winfrey or Renisha McBride, Barack Obama or Michael Brown. These are the narratives about Black people that resonate and attract attention — so much so that our existence as college students and professionals are still seen as exceptional, not expected."