This is how my weekend went:
Friday, I was bombarded on social media by videos about George Floyd, protests and riots, and police brutality. Seeing all of it triggered personal trauma that I’ve experienced. I didn’t sleep much Friday night. All I felt was grief.
Saturday, my family went out, but I stayed home. I needed to be to myself. I recouped.
Sunday, I took a writer’s class. It empowered me to use my voice. It reminded me that my voice is important, and that I have something to contribute. It also reminded me to speak my truth; those that love me will still love me.
Now, I’m ready to speak.
Although I talk about the serious things going on in my life personally, I try to steer away from current events and not talk so much about racism. Unfortunately, keeping quiet is what is perpetuating racism. I haven’t experienced racism to the level that others have, but I still have a narrative that needs to be told. I’ve experienced micro aggressions: little racist or prejudiced things that people do or say that is “okay”, because they aren’t being outwardly belligerent to people of colour. They have black friends, or even relatives. “I’M not like that”, “I’M not racist”, they say. However, as soon as something like riots and protests break out, or if anyone black talks about police brutality, we suddenly become “you people”, or “blacks”.
And above all, more than anything, PLEASE don’t ruin what could be a wholesome moment with “ALL LIVES MATTER.”
Someone that I know posted a picture of a black guy with a “free hugs” shirt hugging a policeman. It was nice, until I saw “all lives matter” in her caption.
I didn’t have the strength to argue about it, but here’s the thing: it might have come from a good place, but the reason we’re out here shouting “Black Lives Matter” is because it is an untruth to say that all lives matter. All lives aren’t getting snuffed out the way that black lives are. THIS is why we’re saying that Black Lives Matter. All lives aren’t being incarcerated (sometimes unjustly) like black lives are. This is why we’re saying that Black Lives Matter. All lives aren’t having their culture stripped from them for profit, and their grief used for popularity with the masses. When we do what we do, we’re “ghetto”, we’re “thugs”, or somehow uncouthed. When other races do it (white, asian, other minorities that can pass for white), it’s cool and it’s an expression of their individuality, and worth spending money on. Other races have experienced cultural appropriation, but certainly not like black people have.
When you can appreciate the culture, but not the people of that culture, you don’t believe that all lives matter, let alone black lives. They only matter in so much that you can profit from them. That’s almost as bad as murdering them unjustly in the streets. I said what I said.
Sunday was actually a really good day for a couple of reasons: I found out how many of my white friends are really my friends. My best friend from elementary school gave me a call to see how I was doing. It was lovely to hear from her. We talked for an hour and a half, and we did talk about race. She mentioned how upset and distressed she was about everything happening, and how badly she wanted to be of help, but didn’t know what to do. That right there is a great place to be. I wish I could’ve directed her better, but things like that give me hope.
She wasn’t the only friend of mine that has been reaching out to make sure I was okay, and that said “I’m here if you need to vent.” Thank God for these white people; there need to be more people like them. More people that will call out racism, that will shout “black lives matter” because they get why we’re saying it, and that are there to listen to their brown friends without getting defensive. This is what we need: people that are willing to stand up and against the racism going on. That has been going on. That we’re sick of ignoring.
As far as the protestors? While I’m not out there smashing windows and wreaking havoc, just know that I am with them. I understand why it got to this point. We got tired. We got tired of seeing brown people being murdered by those that are supposed to protect the community. We are part of the community; therefore, we should be protected also… but we aren’t. Trying to go through “the right avenues” and all the peaceful protesting didn’t do anything. We still didn’t receive the justice for the atrocities we continually face, let alone access to the mental health services that we desperately need.
It got to this point because we got tired of being told to believe in a justice system that doesn’t serve justice to everyone. That’s how it is, and how it has been. And we’re tired of it. That’s why there are riots and looting. Now, I can’t say whether or not the looting was completely necessary, but I get it. I am with them, and I want to shout out the white people that are out there rioting too. The white people that are enraged by all of this, and that were the first to say something: I see you. Thank you. We need your help.
Until all of this stops, and until there is no more racist system, and until “Black Lives Matter” as much as white lives, THEN you can say that “all lives matter”. But right now… it’s not the reality. Don’t say that. You’re fooling yourself.