“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”-James Baldwin
To say the least, 2020 has been exhausting for many reasons. There have been deaths, climate change, and a pandemic. Now, adding to these things, Black America has been attacked blatantly, in full view, and on camera. I am going to tell you the truth – I was exhausted thinking about it, writing about it and living it. So, I attempted to hide from it and stay silent. My attempt to remain silent during times of unrest not only kept me up at night and is a complete disadvantage to my people. I guess one could say I am writing this “For the Culture” and contrary to current actions, my culture is rich.
As challenging as this is for everyone to see, it is even more challenging for me to put into words because I feel that I have done it so many times before. I have written about it in my journal, I have written a letter to my Black son, and I have “Stood with Kaep,” yet there still seems to be zero resolve. That is the most disheartening part. The lack of resolve, convictions, and overall absence of discernment for the people who are paid to protect us. How can the system possibly fail a people it isn’t set up to protect?
I want to address three specific groups: My people (Black people), our leadership (government and police officers), and our allies (people of other races).
Growing up in America, my Grandfather explained to me that this country is full of opportunities. There will be people who do not want you to maximize those opportunities and therefore you have to work harder, smarter, and faster. Never did he explain to me that walking with Skittles and iced tea, jogging, or sleeping could result in my untimely death. However with all of the things, that I will be forced to tell my children this is one of them. I have heard my mother tell my brother to take his license and registration and put it in his cup holder just in case he gets stopped by the police doesn’t have to dig. I have seen countless mothers have to identify their young black sons at a morgue and plan their funerals, robbing them of precious time and potential. I have seen Black Men jogging and gunned down like prey. I have seen young men left in the street for hours for their loved ones to see. And recently on national TV, I saw a man killed because he allegedly forged a check. None of this seems real nor is it fair. Especially when our counterparts storm state houses with guns and spit in the faces of officers with not as much as a slap on the wrist. However, in the midst of it all, we are forced to persevere until it happens again with no end in sight. It’s just another hashtag and collective thoughts and prayers. How is this fair?
On behalf of all of Black America I want to know, are you still offended Colin Kaepernick took a knee? Or are you just as offended at the knee in George Floyd’s neck that ultimately killed him?
We’re expected to be protected by our leaders. Contrary to the current climate, we know not all officers are bad. However, how is it that the ones that show blatant disregard for an entire race of people are never punished? They receive slaps on the wrist or they are “fired.” If the tables were turned, we are fully aware that our convictions would be swift and long. All we are asking is that the punishments fit the crime. This has yet to happen which doubles our frustration and angst.
We are at a time that we are all fortunate to have allies who recognize their privilege, and we are so grateful for that. However, when you stand up for Black America, don’t disable comments or be afraid of the backlash (because there will be some). For those of you that understand this struggle, call it out and condemn it; we love and appreciate you. For those who throw the rock but hide your hand, we see that as well.
You are either all in or all out; there is no halfway in this fight.
Although we are all affected by this, Black Men are disproportionately affected. We all see this. But know that you are loved and valued by the people who need you the most.
Remember our babies are watching, and whatever side you are on, you will have to explain to them the reason. We all have so much work to do, but it will take all of us by any means necessary.