This Post Is Not About Art
It has been a struggle to gather the emotions that are flowing through me and to put them in words, but I felt that I needed to say something. I am drawn to say something as I sit here breathing freely, as those who have died at the hands of police brutality cannot. As a Black woman married to a Black man with two beautifully Black children. I must say something.
Racism extends beyond police brutality. It is systemic, divisive, corrosive and ever evolving but constantly existing. Racism is conscious and subconscious. It can be subtle and blatant.
I am beyond horrified at constantly witnessing the treatment of Black Americans, of human beings, with unjust behavior that has been systematically woven in and out of the tapestry of this country for 400 years and that still continues. Black people are tired and pissed off. It is why you are seeing so many in the streets, so many writing messages like this, so many trying to find ways to make sense of it all, when it truly doesn’t make sense. There is no justification in killing, persecuting, assaulting, profiling, judging a human and think it’s okay, simply because of the color of their skin.
What do I see when I watch acts of murder, judgement, profiling, attacks, bias, blatant disregard, lack of respect and other atrocities pointed at Black people? I see my children, my husband, myself and many people that I love. I see my community. As a Black woman, seeing injustice resonates, deeply. The emotions are vast. I feel pure fear. I feel pure anger. I feel pure exhaustion. I feel pure rage. The emotions I feel are constant and absolutely overwhelming. White Americans simply cannot relate, they cannot understand, they don’t have to worry about a world where they must tell their kids that there is more to know before they go anywhere than simply being safe and having a good time. As Black parents, my husband and I have the added responsibility to tell our children to keep their heads on a swivel, to be careful when traveling in groups because the police or other people may wrongly assume that you are up to no good, to be on your best behavior because you don’t want the police or anyone else think you are being disrespectful, to watch what you have in your hands so they don’t think you have a weapon, to always be aware of the skin you’re in because the moment you walk out the door everyone outside that door is aware of your skin color.
I fear for my children’s lives, I fear for their mental health, I fear for the unconscious and conscious biases non-black people throw at them before even knowing the greatness within them. That these biases will prevent them from getting the job they deserve, the equal pay they deserve, the healthcare they deserve, the loans they may apply for, the simple respect and equal treatment they deserve because they are living, breathing human beings. I know I am not alone in feeling this way.
I have lived a life with the stains of racism. I have had my painful experiences with racism. My husband has experienced racism, my father, my siblings, my grandparents, my in-laws, my whole family and they are not just isolated incidents. Families across this country have experienced these injustices. Racism is systemic and ingrained. And one thing I know for sure, Black people should not have to live in a world where they need to keep an eye open in front and in back of them at the same time. But we do.
America has had no problem raping and pillaging from black people and black culture from the moment black people were brought to this country. While the literal atrocities of the original sin of slavery no longer exists, Black Americans are still bound to it, Black Americans are still treated as second class, as unworthy. Black people are still kept in shackles, though not physically seen but ever so present with the consistent and purposeful lack of opportunities provided to Black Americans. There is a failure to provide nationwide equal education, job opportunities, even something as simple as grocery stores in Black communities. To ensure that Black people get equal housing opportunities and to get loans with fair interest rates that are not based on the color of your skin. Locking up black men in prison systems that are run like corporations. The abuse of the criminal justice system that roots itself in racism beginning with the police force and ending with the clap of the gavel by a judge. It’s often corrupt, unjust and unfair. These injustices simply must stop. Black Americans deserve to be treated just as equally as white Americans just as the Bill of Rights promises ALL of it’s citizens and not just a select white few.
The power of the VOTE is how everyone — black, white, brown, yellow, red and all the hues between them — it’s how everyone can take away the power of those who don’t deserve it. Black Americans have and will continue to speak out, act on and promote equality. I think that it’s now time for those outside the Black community to speak out, act on and promote equality. There is a true need for allies that are sincerely dedicated to working for equality. The silence and indifference of those who aren’t Black only adds to the problem of racism, it will continue to fuel the fire that allows hate and racism to penetrate this country. What can you do? Don’t be afraid to check the people you know. Hold them accountable. Help yourself and them recognize conscious and unconscious biases that allow you to treat people differently, unjustly. Vote for people who believe in social justice, equal rights – not just in words, but in actions. Using the voice of our vote, our strength can be seen, felt and heard by those currently holding offices that don’t deserve to be there. We can create change with the power of the vote. We have the right to make change in those who hold an elected office, from the small positions — aldermen, village officials, board of trustees, school boards, citizen boards — moving up to sheriff offices, state and public attorneys, judges — to all the way to the top, senators, representatives and the presidency. Can you imagine what congress would look like if it had more color to it? Currently there are three Black US senators (there have been only seven others in history outside of those currently holding office). There are only 54 Black Americans out of 435 seats who are serving in the US House of Representatives. I point this out to simply to say, know who you are voting for, educate yourself. If you want more representation, elect them in. It’s your one true power move to assist in changing the laws of the land and to take away the power of those who alter the laws in favor of the rich, the powerful, the elite— predominantly white men. One of the biggest opportunities comes this year with the office of President of the United States. Let’s get out and vote. Remove those from office who do not truly stand for ALL citizens of this country. Elect those who are not afraid to stand on their own and stand for what is right. Those who see the citizens of this country as human beings that should always be treated as 100% equal.
I have said a lot. But trust me there’s so much more to be said and done. I am just a mom writing from my heart because I hope that my children and ALL children will grow up in this country better than it stands right now.