June 1, 2020
Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets. Don’t do the same things as those around you. Don't touch anything in the store that you don’t plan to buy. Don’t walk out of the store without a bag and a receipt, even if you only bought a pack of gum. Never leave the house without your ID. Dress in the eyes of someone judging you. If you get pulled over, pull into a well lit area, and keep your hands on the wheel.
From the age that I was able to leave the house on my own, these are things that my parents told me. I used to think that this was because they wanted to scare me, but now I realize they wanted to save me. We live in a broken societal system, that will always and forever hinder the oppressed.
"I used to think that this was because they wanted to scare me,
but now I realize they wanted to save me."
Being black in America has never been easy. Even as a kid, I dealt with people constantly wanting to touch my hair, to play with it. While it seems like a childish thing to do, my hair is rooted in my identity. When people started to think that they could simply reach out and touch, pull, and pet my hair, that’s when I really realized that I was different. That’s when I realized and learned how to politely stand up for myself. How to distance myself without a scene. All beginning at the age of 6.
People have always called me mature for my age, but I don’t think they realize that I think the way that I do to keep myself safe. To keep myself in good standings. To minimize people’s judgement of me.
"People have always called me mature for my age, but I don’t think they realize that I think the way that I do to keep myself safe."
When you look out today, you see the riots that are taking place all around our country. The important thing to realize is that their original purpose was to protest the broken system that the United States has always had. There is a huge double standard around these riots. People seem to forget that it was riots that awarded people the right to free speech and the right to love whomever one may choose. People on the outside who are looking in on these riots are saying that this isn’t the way to get things done.
"There is a HUGE double
standard around these protests."
Many people point to the success of MLK’s March for Freedom, and while that got African Americans theoretical rights in a political world, they have done little to achieve those rights in a societal world. That is why people are rioting. That is why people are protesting. This broken system has never changed. People on the outside looking in are simply choosing to ignore that. When people don’t acknowledge the actual facts of what is occurring, the messages get lost.
"That isn’t what these brave people are risking their lives for."
People forget what the actual fight is, and what it’s against. That isn’t what these brave people are risking their lives for. They are risking their lives to bring attention to this broken system that we as black people are tired of. The color of someone’s skin holds a prejudice that has been ingrained in people’s minds for centuries. It can be both conscious and subconscious, but while it exists equality can never be achieved, and equity remains a distant dream.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “A riot is the language of the unheard,” and that is what this is. People are protesting and rioting because nothing was heard despite their efforts in the past. Now, people are tired of putting up with this system, and demand change. People who look in from the outside might not like what this looks like, but this is what is necessary. This is how change happens.