Lately, I have seen and heard many comments (either pertaining to me or about a friend) that have more than angered me. In the wake of Ferguson and the amount of Black people that are dying at the hands of white police, the open dialogue of derogatory tweets, cultural movements in fashion, Twitter, etc…the world seems to be tensing with every moment. Being away in Rome has blunted the effect, but my Facebook is overwhelmed by what seems like two different sides: the #BlackLivesMatter and the #AllLivesMatter.
I have friends of all different shapes and sizes and races, and I discuss race with each and every one of them, whether they want to or not. Some of that dialogue, I am aware, is often uncomfortable to some. This I can understand; we live in a world where we were taught that racism no longer exists. The time where people of color hang from trees and are mobbed in restaurants and drinking from different water fountains is “long” gone.
Well, it’s not.
Like many things, racism is a manifestation of a long history in America. It takes many forms and continues to evolve with each generation. Picture yourself: you are sick, very sick, and you decide to go to the doctor. You have a bacterial infection in your body, they say.
For example, you go to the doctor, and your doctor prescribes a medication that he tells you must be taken for 21 days. You obediently take the medication for 14 days, but as you start to feel better, getting back into the swing of your life, you forget to take the rest of the medication. You are healed, but not completely.
We have taken steps to prevent many aspects of racism that my grandparents and great-grandparents had to suffer through. Slavery is gone, the Civil Rights Act is in effect, Affirmative Action is thriving. But, we didn’t take the medication for the prescribed number of days. The virus is still in the body, slowly reproducing until it can take over your body again, and this time, it is much stronger.
That virus is the nuanced racism today. I still am asked questions that exemplify that I am different, unusual, or unique. I am all of those things, but they all have nothing to do with my race.
MY PEOPLE ARE DYING. Am I supposed to stand back and pretend that everything is okay, everything will fall into place? I have to remember another name, and one day, it could be someone I know and love. It could be me. It doesn’t even matter how I am portrayed in the media anymore, I don’t care if they were a “thug”, I just want to wake up one morning and not hear another African-American has died at the hand of white police, and are not receiving repercussions for their actions. Is this an accident? Because it doesn’t seem to be. Police brutality is an issue nationwide, so why are only African-Americans dying?
We riot because our hearts are heavy. Our souls hurt. For years and years we are subjected to oppression in the most systematic ways, and I believe that many of us are tired of being in the hole. We are not fighting back, we are fighting for our life.
Do we not deserve life?
Phot courtesy of Buzzfeed and Sait Serkan Gurbuz / Reuters