We discuss many hard topics here on the blog but conversations about racism barely exist. I have to be honest; I am a bit disappointed with the blog not using the platform more often to discuss the hard issues like racism. We shouldn't wait for a black mama to cover the issue, because quite frankly, our opinions will be similar but different in experience. Racism is not just a black problem and therefore should not only be discussed by the black community.
Does mentioning racism make you uncomfortable? Well, it makes me uncomfortable any time I see a police officer. It makes me uncomfortable whenever my husband leaves the house alone or with friends. It makes me uncomfortable to hold interactions with any white person because I'm unsure of any hidden racism. I'm uncomfortable when we're the only black family at the park, restaurant, museum, or anywhere. So, how uncomfortable are you really? We're long past the days of race being taboo. There's an ongoing genocide on black people because of your chosen silence and violent acts.
While slavery was 400+ years ago and segregation lasted for nearly 100 years and only “ended” 50 years ago, there has been lasting effects on both black and white people. While white families continue to pass down generational wealth that stems from slavery, black families are impacted by generational trauma, poverty, and racism. Racism is still very rampant in today's society, just as it was in parents and grandparents’ generations. The most recent case of racism is regarding 25-years old Ahmaud Arbery. Ahmaud was chased down and murdered while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood by armed white men. Action and arrests were only made because of social media outcries and video evidence. Ahmaud was JOGGING, exercising, and was murdered because of the color of his skin. Have you ever felt threatened while exercising because of the color of your skin or carrying out any daily life task?
***I wrote this post mid-May. There have been many Black men and women murdered at the hands of racism before and after Ahmaud. I'd have to change this paragraph every day to keep up. The most prominent at the moment being George Floyd, whose murder was captured on video. A Minneapolis Police Officer kneeled on his neck for close to 9 minutes while other policemen looked on, and this has sparked global outrage and unrest through countless Black Lives Matter protests.
In 2014, I remember months leading up to the birth of my son; I was afraid and helpless with bringing him into this world. The case that did it for me was Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In that very moment, Mike Brown had become my own son and the execution and injustice created a rage inside of me. I was so angry.
Every other day, there was an influx of black lives becoming hashtags with no justice being served. It was painful to be black in America in 2014 and with that came the birth of Black Lives Matter. And if your rebuttal to Black Lives Matter is All Lives Matter, then why you are silent on issues affecting black lives? Many of the black lives were claimed by those sworn to protect and serve our communities, police officers. In 2015, over 1000+ lives were lost to the hands of police officers who saw fit to use excessive force against black people, but who also peacefully arrested Dylan Roof, who murdered 9 black people inside of a Charleston church.
Globally, white people have set the tone for the treatment of black people for other racial/ethnic groups. Most recently is coronavirus discrimination against Africans in China. Africans have been refused services, forced to quarantine, and have been evicted from homes and businesses. Read how China is enforcing discriminatory acts upon Africans amid COVID-19.
These violent acts and behaviors must end now. If we're so progressive, it's going to take more than you reading a diverse children's book or being a fan Michelle Obama's Becoming. The space has always been created for those who want to fight along us, all you have to do is show up. We are not seeking a savior but allies. Correct your relatives and friends for their racist acts, views, and out-of-date jokes. Social media is a major resource in spreading awareness and initiating action, so read and share the posts. Teach your children more than diversity, teach them the facts and correct their behavior when you see discriminatory acts being projected. Fellow Contributor LaShaun wrote a great post on how to talk about race with your children. Do not be afraid to start the conversation or getting educated on racism. Ask questions. Just as you hope for us to be open in hearing your questions, be open enough to hear the answers. Just speak up and show up.
Another face of racism is white privilege. White privilege is an unconscious and unseen benefit/advantage in work, school, government, and daily life. Yes, you may have hardships in your life but the color of your skin is not the reason for your hardships. Many like to think that white privilege does not exist, but it’s so unseen that you would barely notice if it wasn’t pointed out to you.
Are you followed or harassed while shopping? Are you uncomfortable with interactions with the police? Are you able to find abundant representation of your race in all forms of society? Are you fearful of your loved ones being murdered due to the color of their skin? Are you able to say the words, “I see no color” in regards to race? Are you directly affected by daily racism? This is privilege.
This country has to admit and take responsibility for the mistreatment of black people before we can progress as a society. A show of hands for non-black people who would trade places with a black person. If you wouldn't, you know there's a problem. As black people, we know the problem, but it's others who choose to live in their privilege as if racism doesn't persist in today's society because it's not directly affecting them. Stop asking black people what they think of racism and ask your non-black neighbor, coworker, friend, relative, and so on. And tell others what you think of racism.