It’s an exhausting week to be black in America.
There are certain things that you deal with on a regular basis when you are black that white people don’t ever think about. For example, I know that at any moment, a white person may walk up to me without saying a word and touch my hair as if I am some sort of zoo exhibit (yes, this has happened to me more than once). I know that people who I think are friends may make racist statements in front of me and then act confused when I am upset by it. I know that if I get upset in any way there are white people who may say things to me like, “Oh no, she’s getting mad! The black side is coming out!”
This is just a tiny fraction of my experience as a black woman.
When I get together with my black friends, we share our stories and try to make sense of them. Some of them mirror mine. Some of them are less common but just as bizarre such as my friend’s experience on her Ivy League college campus of being asked by a white student if black people can drink and properly digest milk. Some are more violent like my friend who was maced at 16 years old while minding his own business and walking home from his part time job.
At this point, I don’t have one black friend who hasn’t experienced some form of racism. We navigate through our daily lives with the knowledge that we must work harder to achieve the same success as those who do not have black skin. We know that we will not be shielded from witnessing the murders of people who look like us in the same way that videos of white people being murdered are blocked and banned from our screens. We know that a routine traffic stop for an expired tag or a broken tail light might lead to our demise. We know that for us, working, running, smoking, talking, walking, and breathing can be a death sentence.
Yet, as early as a few months ago, a distant friend on Facebook, who is white, expressed shock over learning that some of her black friends “still” experience racism. Those of us who are black know that racism has never stopped. When we would try to bring it up we were told that we were “playing the black card”. We are just “angry black women” who can’t “take a joke”.
For some reason, a black person telling a white person that we are experiencing racism, that we are afraid for our lives and the lives of our families and friends, that the victim did not deserve to be murdered, is often not enough. For some reason videos must be watched, white people must be able to see it first hand.
I have said it before and I will say it again. We experience racism and it happens often. Many of us are tired and fed up. Many of us are scared.
I fully believe that in order to overthrow the system of white supremacy and bring real equality to all people, we must work together. I believe that white people standing up, speaking out, and being active is indispensable to the movement. If you are white and you have been afraid to speak out before, stop being afraid. Listen first, then take action.
If you are black and you have been afraid to speak out about your experiences, now is the time to put those fears aside. Your voice matters, your pain matters, YOU MATTER.
Don’t ever let anyone make you feel as if your story shouldn’t be shared and your anger shouldn’t be felt.
We will not stay silent anymore and watch as history repeats itself again and again. We must all take action to dismantle white supremacy. This is a sad and disgusting time in our history and it falls on all of us to make the future better. It will require hard work, bravery, and lots of love but I believe we have the power to get it done. Years from now, history books will discuss the brutality, racism, and hatefulness that our world is currently full of. Let’s work together to take those American History books into a more positive direction.