Let Me Clear My Throat
I held off on writing a post about the Charlottesville protest because I really had nothing to say. I was not surprised, and like much of black America, I had to suck my teeth and wait and see what would happen in response. I did not expect much besides maybe a week of headlines about the backlash, social media posts, and some inadequate message from Trump. But this is exactly what many of us are doing right now- remaining silent. No matter how many "likes" we give to posts that demand our attention, silence is deafening when you're in a position to at least say something.
I would like to be able to confidently say that most of us agree that racism still exists in this country and that it's something that will be a long and grueling battle to contain, but that would not be an accurate statement. America is hardly good at masking its true emotions, and when incidents like the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville take place, the truth is, once again, clearly revealed. I already knew that we lived in a racist country. It doesn't take a white person calling me the n-word to know that. But it's ironic that in explaining racism, many want concrete examples. We live in a world where racism isn't real unless it is blatant and honest, and even then, it can always be covered with some other excuse. It's like racism isn't wrong enough on its own if you can't touch and see it, but even when publicly racist groups create a scene, there is blame on "both sides."
I'm frustrated. I'm annoyed. I'm wondering what's next. Living in a faulty society that heils a leader who cannot call out racism for what it is and is more of a singer who bodies through Twitter fingers than a diplomatic politician who speaks for all the people under his heinous reign is... no surprise. As a person of color, and a very dark color at that, it is no surprise to see groups spew hate toward my entire race and I'm accustomed to tiring in anticipation of an appropriate response from our nation's spokesmodel. It is also not surprising to remember that this whole incident will suddenly disappear when the next "big" news story emerges, and some of us will continue to walk around again acting as if nothing happened.
I can't do that. I can't pretend that I'm not walking on eggshells and I can't try to forget that there are still large groups of people out there who see me as the enemy. I can't pretend that I'm living a carefree life, knowing that there are so many people around me who may act like they care, but deep down, wouldn't and aren't doing a thing to protect me and people who look like me from those who hate me. I can't ignore the fact that I go to school in a state that once relied on the labor of hundreds of thousands of black slaves, a state that is home to families and generations of people who have publicly and proudly built their wealth on the same hatred and humiliation of other races that still exists today, and where I feel more like a minority than anywhere else I have ever been. I can't pretend that I feel safe or confident that things will get much better any time soon.
The beauty of being black in a time like this is that I know these things. I can still have love, pride, and hope because I don't live in ignorance of what happens in our world. I live in America, so what happens here directly impacts me, but what happens here happens in so many other places, too. I can choose to feel helpless, I can choose to ignore, but I choose, instead, to be conscious and to consistently push forward in all that I do to refute and disprove through being and doing. I choose to use my platforms- whether through a blog, the mentorship of teachers, or in everyday conversations to influence change. No matter who tries to intimidate or minimize, whether with tiki torches or the title of commander-in-chief, I refuse to step down from my calling and mission to encourage, impact, protect, and uplift myself and those whom so many try to trample into silence.