George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.
The news has been making me feel heavy lately. And what’s sad is that this isn’t even new. The word “news” implies that this is something new happening right now. But yet, this isn’t new at all.
A moment keeps coming back to me as I take in what’s happening (and happened) to our Black brothers and sisters.
I was in my junior year of high school, taking U.S. History. We were in the midst of learning about J.F.K and the Civil Rights movement. At the present, we were on the brink of electing our first Black president.
Our teacher posed a question to our class. She asked something on the lines of, should Kennedy have passed the Civil Rights Act, with his re-election coming soon? She then told us to go to one side of the room if yes, the other side if no.
I remember thinking right away, well heck yeah, of course! Black people have suffered through so much, before and after they were emancipated. Clearly, being freed from slavery wasn’t enough for them to be seen as equal in this country. Nothing was being done to try to help this group of people. And if Kennedy was as progressive as history made him out to be, this was his duty.
So I sat where I was, because the side of the room I was on was the side of yes, Kennedy should have worked on passing the Civil Right Act.
And then I watched my class move around me… to the other side of the room. Every. Single. One of them. I am not kidding.
So naturally, with me the only voice to the side I chose, our teacher asked me why I had chosen yes. And I explained exactly what I said above. Black people have waited long enough, it’s time. And if he’s worried about losing votes from white people, well there’s Black people to vote for him now (in my ideal mind back then).
She then turned to the other side of the room and asked them why they said no.
And the reason, I believe, is why it’s so hard for our country to be progressive. They said that Kennedy had to think about his voters. He already had the majority of the nation on his side, why rock the boat?
Rock the boat for who, exactly??? White people.
Why are any laws that benefit POC or any kind of minority deflected and unsupported. To keep white people happy. To keep them comfortable. To keep them feeling validated.
And after hundreds of years of validating only one side, one race, can you imagine what that can do to the people who have been belittled, dehumanized, deemed less than, for the same amount of time?
Now, I’m not happy that these riots are going on. I’m sad. I’m scared. I don’t think violence is ever an answer.
But as I see it, these riots that are happening is the same thing as when an abused and beaten animal lashes out. It’s enternalized so much violence within itself, it has no other way. Violence is the only way it knows how to protect itself.
And some are saying, “riots are no way to get things done, to make things better, to have other people come to your side and support you”.
People of color have tried every which way throughout history to get their voice heard. To show they are human, to show that they deserve to be treated as a human, with respect.
There have been protests, both violent and peaceful. Nothing.
There have been laws enacted that tells us we need to treat others with respect. Nothing.
There have been those who run for different offices of this country, trying to bring the voice of their people into the very institution that silences them. Nothing.
Like, we’ve had a Black president, a thoughtful, intelligent, patient man, who people still think of as being inhuman.
I’ve been taking in everything that’s been happening and I can feel my body get hot and shaky and my heart beats faster and all these thoughts fly through my brain and it takes all of my energy to find my breath, and focus on that, to stay calm, to not use this energy in my body for negative actions, to write this post with a focus on writing my truth and not with hatred.
For those of you who are feeling how I’m feeling, let’s take this energy and put it towards educating ourselves. Education leads to understanding and understanding leads to love and love is the only thing that can destroy racism.
We live in a world where we have knowledge at our fingertips. Let’s work on thinking critically about what we see and hear. Let’s look inside ourselves and challenge our beliefs. There will be times when we feel uncomfortable, but that’s when we grow. And let’s vote.
I hope with all my heart that our country can find peace and balance. I get that, at this moment, we are overwhelmed with negativity. But peace shows itself here and there, like bright lights in the darkness.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
If you need a call to action, DONATE!! Anything you can. A lot of us are not doing well during the COVID-19 crisis but if you are, please think about donating to a cause.
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew.– “Colors of the Wind”, Pocahontas
P.S. I highly recommend this video of thoughts by Trevor Noah. I like to listen to what he says because he always comes from a place of looking at the big picture and reflection. It challenges me to think like that, to see all points of view.