The past couple of months have been hard. We’ve lost 100,000 American lives to the Coronavirus. I have personally lost my Grandfather due to the disease and know numerous friends who have lost relatives and loved ones. It came as no surprise to me that African-Americans were dying at a disproportionate rate. There’s a saying that when America gets a cold, black people will get the flu. Dealing with this loss and suffering has not been easy. But then reports and videos have surfaced of white people killing black people as though we aren’t even human. We’re fighting not one but two viruses.
I have personally reached a breaking point. I have been unable to sleep, I have been emotional, and I had been suffering a headache for days. The part of me that is tired, is a part within me that I can’t even describe. My soul is tired. My very being is tired. I’m tired of seeing the video of George Floyd played repeatedly on the news so America can get off on seeing black people suffer. To see a human being treated less than most people treat their dogs is repulsive. But what hurts the most is that so many people still don’t get it. So many white people sit by and say nothing and do nothing and act like the whole world isn’t burning down around them.
As I watch those around me act like everything is ok, I wish that for one day I could experience that sense of privilege. To live in a world where I don’t have to worry about my loved ones coming home. To not weigh if I should have children of my own, because they will only ever be seen as less than. To not have to defend my right to be in certain spaces. I would love to know what that freedom feels like. What the world must look like through your eyes? I don’t want to be white, I would never want that. But I imagine that this freedom is intoxicating. It’s comforting. And I think I would do anything to protect it if I had it.
White supremacy is not the issue. White apathy is the issue. If I ignore the problem because it doesn’t personally affect me, then it’s not there. When my coworker makes a comment that is racist, I’ll say nothing because I’m not a person of color. If you stand by and do nothing in the face of injustice you are as culpable as those committing the actual offense.
America has never dealt with its issues. The country we hold so dear was built on stolen land. Our Constitution that we revere so much was signed with blood. The blood of thousands of slaves and indigenous people. What we’re seeing play out is our reckoning. The anger that we see is the anger that Black people live with every day. The fear that you are feeling, is what we feel every time we leave our homes.
Many people are calling for peace. Arguing that the violence displayed over these past few days is not going to help the situation. Violence begets more violence. Killing a man in the street is violent. Choking someone to death is violent. Shooting someone in their home in the middle of the night is violent. The argument for less violence is really an argument for Black people to show no emotion. We cannot be angry, sad, hurt, or scared. We should grin and bear the pain that our ancestors carried before us.
I’ve had well-meaning white people ask me if I am ok. And I wanted to ask them if they really care? Or are you really asking if I am angry with you? Do I blame you for the pain that white people have inflicted on my people? The answer is no, I don’t blame you. But I do hold you accountable. If you truly care, donate to an organization that is fighting racial injustice. Create safe spaces for Black people to share how they truly feel. Be mindful of what you say and how you speak. Do the necessary work to ask yourself in what ways has your privilege helped you and in what ways have you contributed to a racist society? March with us when the police are mowing us down in the street.
Remember that just because we carry the burden well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy. It makes it that much heavier when you realize it’s not our burden to carry. You ask us to carry the pain of our ancestors, but you don’t want to carry the pain of yours. The time has come for us to put that burden down.
To my white readers, I want to end this post with a list of ways that you can make a difference and educate yourself on your privilege:
Donate to a social justice organization:
Watch 13thand When They See Us. Both are streaming on Netflix.
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall