Allow me to thank the government for making Juneteenth a national holiday, but excuse me for saying that we, as black people, wanted a law that protects us against hate crimes. Having a day to celebrate how far black people have come is virtually pointless if their lives don’t mean anything but a day off from work. We seem to always be two steps behind, even with the celebration of Juneteenth. I am by no means saying that black lives are more important than other races-that is not my message at all.
Let me explain…
I remember in college my professor asking the class to separate into groups and read a checklist based on Peggy McIntosh’s description of White Privileged. Since I went to a predominantly white institution I was one of three black students in the class. As my group went through the list I remember being the only one with the least amount of checks. More than half of the people in my group didn’t realize that these things happen to people of color on a regular basis.
- Have you walked in the store and been followed around in the most obvious way for fear that you are going to steal something?
- Have you been seen as aggressive for just standing or walking around?
- Have you ever worried you won’t get selected for a job regardless of your qualifications because your name is too “ethnic”?
No? Well, I have and I know too many people who have had similar experiences. I remember my group looking to me to explain how this could be or even waiting to hear about the “black experience”. Honestly, I didn’t know what to tell them. I was one black person who has had some experiences with being racially profiled but I couldn’t speak for every black person. Black lives aren’t more important but they matter and they struggle to simply make a living unless they rap, play a sport, or hustle. However, no matter what we do, we are followed in stores, harassed in the street, and pulled over by police simply for the color of our skin.
Being Black in America for Me
I feel nervous when I am around police even if I am just passing through a checkpoint. I become worried that when I enter a predominantly white area someone will see me as a threat and call the police or take matters into their own hands. I have seen what some people think of black people and it makes me think that our world really hasn’t changed since 1964 where the Jim Crow laws supposedly ended.
I hold no ill will towards the police, I just want to know how someone that is trained to be in dangerous situations, is suddenly scared by an unarmed person. If defunding the police seems like an outrageous idea maybe we extend the time period for the police academy. If it takes 7 years for a lawyer to be able to practice law it should take a lot longer than 24 weeks for police officers to be able to enforce the law.
For people of color, we are seen as threats but our culture is glorified. There was a saying floating around social media saying “ They want our culture, not our struggle”. I took this to mean that some people look to Black people for new dance trends, fashion fads, sport g.o.a.ts, and music stars, yet they ignore the blatant and obvious pain we suffer from racism. Non-people of color glorify a “fake” struggle of poverty and growing up in “the hood” to make themselves appear more tough, interesting, or relatable.
Not realizing that people are brought up by circumstances and are actively choosing to get away from the struggle. I can almost guarantee that given the way black people are treated no one would actually trade places with them. So naturally, over the years black people have overly embraced their culture and spoke out about being proud of their skin color. Marcus Garvey once said, “ The black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” Even if no one else likes us, we are proud of the melanin in our skin.
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