Last year while participating in the Woke Vote Summer Fellowship we ended our time with a trip down to Montgomery, AL to visit the EJI museum and the Lynching Memorial.
Although I have always been conscious of what it is to be black in America, especially being born, raised and still living in the South, that trip shook me to my core in ways I still can’t properly describe. For hundreds of years people of color have been underrepresented, mistreated and killed for no reason other than the skin they were born in.
I have been, for lack of better words, privileged enough to not experience many racists driven incidents in my 34 years. I grew up in a somewhat small town in North Alabama. From pre-school til sixth grade, I attended a predominately white, private school and from eventh grade until my high school graduation, I attended public school. When I graduated high school, I went on to move to what I like to think is one of the blackest cities in Alabama…Birmingham, and I’ve been here since 2004. I eventually got an associates degree in Criminal Justice too. I have been overlooked for jobs, had some pretty cruel supervisors and countless jobs and I still can only recall a good two encounters where I felt race was the motive behind a non-black persons actions towards me. Once was as a little girl in my ballet class and the other was when I was pulled over by Hoover PD because “allegedly” my car was showing up as stolen. Any other instances are either buried too deep to remember or I was just too blinded to see it for what it was.
Now while I may not have a slew of experiences on direct racism, that doesn’t negate the FACT that I am, and will always be a black woman. I love being a black woman and with all that I know about the black experience, I would still CHOOSE to be black. I won’t attempt to explain how or why it’s so amazing being black. We are the most resilient, magical, creative, unapologetic people I’ve ever seen. Nothing compares to being a women of color. We lead in the number of entrepreneurs and big money makers, we are the backbones of our families, we give life, we protect each other and our black men. We do all this while still being the most unprotected, disrespected and neglected.
2020 has given us a lot to process from a global pandemic to losing our beloved Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). As if these aren’t enough to deal with, we must also deal with what seems like a never ending cycle of unarmed, non-threatening, black bodies being gunned down in the streets & homes by police and no real justice being brought forth.
- On February 23, while jogging, Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by racists.
- On the night of March 13, Breonna Taylor was murdered by police while sleeping in her bed.
- On May 25, excessive force (kneeling on the throat) was used by police in the murder of George Floyd.
- On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot, by police, in the back seven times, in front of his children. He survived the shooting but is now paralyzed from the waist down.
These are just a few of the stories that have made national news but with enough research you can find countless others this year and years past.
Black people are literally tired. We are drained. We are exhausted. We have been oppressed mentally, physically, financially, economically & emotionally for all of our existence in this country that we were forced to live on. All the while being told to “go back to Africa” when you stand up against the injustices that plague our communities.
We have a sitting “president” who goes out of his way to discredit all things on the side of right. He mocks handicapped people, he uses misinformed blacks to further his agenda and try to convince us that he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. This has given racists more courage to be more vocal and unapologetic in how they treat people of color. This nation’s leader has all but given the green light to take justice into your own hands and kill people of color solely because you dislike them for no just reason other than their skin color and the fact that they refuse to be oppressed by you.
Black people and every person that considers themselves to be an ally only want equality for the oppressed. When someone supports or says #BlackLivesMatter it isn’t an anti-white sentiment. All lives do matter but black lives are part of the all and until their lives are valued & appreciated to the degree of their non-minority counterparts, there will continue to be a NEED to specify our lives separately from the “all”. Until people of color are afforded the same opportunities of advancement and acceptance in post secondary schools, courtrooms and corporate boardrooms we will continue to speak out, protest, boycott, expose and whatever else it takes to be heard, taken seriously and bring about political reform and all around change for the betterment of humanity.