(Please note this post dives deep into thoughts on racism in America and may make some of you uncomfortable and trigger others. We fully support the writer in this thought-provoking piece about some of the things that aren’t often said out loud about being black in America.)
How do I put my feelings into words? There begins my struggle. A 400+ year struggle that some do not and will not understand whether by intellectual innocence, neglect, or sheer ignorance. How do I begin to explain this?
Well, it falls into one of these categories, not by default but by their own fault and that this – STORY is just that a story. A tale as old as time, with a racial twist.
You’ve heard the rhyme in elementary Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. He “discovers” a beautiful land filled with indigenous people.
The story depicts the image of the long table next to the ocean with the breaking of bread to give thanks to the pilgrims with the Native Americans. But what this story does not tell you either in words or images is that in 1492, at that table, lands were conquered, and people enslaved for the better good of others. Yes, they left this out of most textbooks.
As a black woman, this story is a struggle. A struggle because other Americans, who may not look like me and don’t understand the impacts of their ancestors. Maybe it’s due to intellectual innocence, neglect, or sheer ignorance. Maybe I won’t change your mind, but hopefully, you can understand how something that seems like ancient history to you impacts my life today.
The textbooks have been written. Chapters about wars with their general heroes on their high horses, lessons taught by teachers about presidents, plights for freedom, doctrines, and emancipations. We learned about romanticized marches for freedom. All of us were showed horrific images of riots, people of color captured and terrorized water hoses and snarling dogs on US soil. We were told in documentaries about the lives lost during these American historical events.
While up until a few weeks ago, most people would say that could never happen today. Well, this Story continues to repeat itself and that once “blind eye” now pretends it cannot see. Being ignorant to the truth, because it is hard to handle, is no longer acceptable.
Allow me to be your guide stick:
This Story has never and will never be Our-STORY. From the field in the blazing sun where whips could be heard piercing skin. This romanticized Story of freeing the slaves has never and will never be OUR-STORY to freedom.
My husband and I still are explaining to our kids why skin color is still is still an eye soar to racists and target for so many people, still in 2020. When my children are taught black people became equals when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
How does one have this conversation in this day and age and not be brought to tears? Regardless of your color, how do you do it? Is it easier depending on the level of ignorance you sustain? Is it easier if you just say get over it that was 158 years ago? Or Is it easier to justify by saying “they” should have complied with the police…? Does it ease the painful reality to know it was an accident because he fit the description and the officer feared for their life? Offers aren’t supposed to kill innocent or guilty people, and yet it’s happening a lot.
What isn’t easy is how I, how we, have to explain all these easy things to not only ourselves but to our children, our elders, our communities. The senselessness, the arrogance, the distaste, the disappointment, the anger, the loss of words, the hurt, and the pain and suffering.
People are shocked all of this is still happening today. It’s being documented in some story somewhere in this land of the free and home of the brave.
When does this story change? Will it ever change? According to This-Story, it’s supposed to. The past is the past and we learn from it in order to better the future, right?
Please tell me which story are we in now? Is today the unedited version? When will publishing happen because I am so curious to see what those images look like? Maybe those peaceful civil rights protests of the ’60s or L.A. riots in 1991 were mire foreshadowing reflections for today. Were civilians there then? Regardless of their criminal backgrounds, did they say- I. Can’t. Breathe?
Let me help those that are stuck. The cry was the same then as it is now the words were just a little different. The tone is the same, but the pitch is different. Yet the STORY is the same but the world moves on. The world is now at the point where I have to fear for my husband’s life when he leaves the house because he fits the profile. This same world has caused me to have to explain to my daughters you are not the same (even though the same blood runs through all of us) just because of the color of your skin, put your hands where they can be seen and hit record because no matter what they say it could save your life or another person’s… or maybe NOT.
In having a conversation with my husband who’s 47, he said who would have thought racism would still be here? He remembered that at age 7 kids had Dick Tracy phones and pretended they could see the person on the other line. You couldn’t have told him that in the future that would be real. He wouldn’t have believed that today we would have things like solar power, electronic cars, or prototypes for flying cars and racism would still exist. Mind-boggling… but hey folks are just trying to keep making America great …again…right? Take a second and think about it.
I write this because I’m mad at the world that thinks it’s ok to make me/us feel the way I/we do. I write this to help some see what might not be so clear to you because what you see is not a struggle, it’s just a story, another story, a complaint to a saga. But can I ask… don’t you get tired of reading the same stories, complaints, sagas?
I get tired of trying to explain it, ridiculing it, and rationalizing in my mind how to not look at any white person and feel scared because I know that it’s not all just the few bad apples in the bunch that shouldn’t speak for the many. But please understand- it’s those bad apples that cause the hate you give to harbor, manifest, and activate in those that look like me and some of those that may not look just like me but understand the struggles. How do I, How do we all get on the same page? Can that even be a reality?
The only motivation that I have today to answer these two questions is turning on Imagine by John Lennon and listening to the words like it’s my first time hearing it. He understood. Now I ask that you do the same and think about what you just read. I mean think about it. Maybe we are just dreamers but how do I wake from this nightmare?