I have stayed quiet far too long, and that is a privilege.
We are in a STATE OF EMERGENCY, and if I see one more person saying #AllLivesMatter I am going to scream. We know that black men and women are dying each and every day. They are attacked by police, they are found dead in a jail cell, they are murdered in church. They are lifted up for one moment, then swept under the rug. The state of emergency is very real, predominant and institutionalized. It will never change unless we MAKE it change.
That means all of us.
Black Lives Matter.
The fact that there was even discussion over the removal of the confederate flag is scary. The flag that was carried by those fighting to continue slavery. To continue the oppression of a people. To give themselves the right to own human life. People argue that it isn’t racially motivated – and for some it may not be – but for the majority, it is. The culture that the confederate flag honors is a culture that bred the crisis that we are currently in. That is fucked up.
We argue that the system that created and fostered this level of hate has died, but it hasn’t. I can remember instances and conversations within my own family tree that prove this construct is firmly held in place by elders – and just because I believe differently, doesn’t mean that there aren’t families where hate, discrimination and ruthlessness are passed down generation to generation.
I come from the south. A place where plantations were once plentiful. Where black human beings were treated as commodities. Where the confederate flag flies high, or is plastered to the back of a car on a bumper sticker. It is. I grew up not far from where Bree Newsome took a stand by taking down the confederate flag.
“We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer,” Bree Newsome, 30, said in a statement released by activist group Blackbird… “We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”
We live in a world where I worry about my best friend driving to work. Where I worry about her boyfriend while he is on business trips. That worry is just a fraction of the sheer terror I am sure her mother feels, the terror that she feels when he is gone. You cannot tell me this is normal. That this is “just the way it is.” That this is the world we live in is an unbelievable, horrible, cruel but real fact.
You cannot tell me that this is how it should be.
I once heard from a friend that the thing she was most scared of in this world was having a son. How would she explain to him how to stay safe? How would she educate him in the ways of the world? How could she teach him how to not get killed for the color of his skin? How would she even be able to let him out of the house without being overcome by fear?
Let that sit with you for a minute.
We should never hear the words “If I die in jail…” but that is exactly what we are hearing. We should all say their names: Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Andrew Loku. Jermaine Carby. The list continues every day.
“Pull your pants up and they won’t kill you”
“Speak properly and they won’t kill you”
But there is no guarantee that they won’t kill you. All we have to do is look towards the death of Sandra Bland, a college educated woman. A woman who was part of greek life. A working woman who had just landed her dream job. All it took was one turn signal. That is a state of emergency.
So, how do we change the world we live in? We take action. Immediate action. It isn’t too late. I encourage you to head to the Black Lives Matter website, to educate yourself, to join the movement. Acknowledging the state of emergency is only the first step, but I believe we can change the world.
It might make white Americans feel uncomfortable; that’s okay. Discomfort is the beginning of growth. If you are uncomfortable – read this piece by Keith Rushing who says “So, to white Americans who are uncomfortable, I say: welcome to our world. You may be uncomfortable for a while until we make America a truly fair and racially just society.“
Black Lives Matter.