I turned to the news last week to see two cases where black man were shot. The first one I heard of was Alton Sterling. He was simply selling CDs on the corner. He had just came back from a gas station not too long before and was joking with the owner. The police were called because he was carrying a gun. What should have been an exchange of words, a license check, and a goodbye ended with shots fired and a man dead. The next instance of another black man shot was a man by the name of Philando Castile. He was simply driving with his girlfriend and child and was pulled over for a broken tail light. What should have ended in MAYBE a ticket and a check of license and registration ended with a man dying in front of his girlfriend and child.
Black Lives Matter is a movement that is fighting for Black people to be guarded by the same laws and entertain the same freedoms as everyone else. Yes, we understand that every life is important, but right now it is not all lives that are being gunned down in the streets in front of their children. It is not all lives that are being held in jail without water and restricted from calling people. It is not all lives that are suffering from these instances, because if it was we would be going through a revamp of our justice system. Trust me.
"Let's be clear, we said Black Lives Matter. We never said Only Black Lives Matter, that was the media not us. In truth, we know that All Lives Matter. We've supported your lives throughout history. Now we need your help with Black Lives Matter for Black Lives are in danger." - Gene Testimony Hall
After the events of this week I started to think about my life and how it could have been me. I started to think about how I was stopped by the cops while I was on a date. As soon as I got out of the car I started crying because all I could think about was my mom and how she would find my body in the park. I was thinking the absolute worse, because that is what I have been conditioned to think. Thankfully the officers were nice and made sure we got home safe. I do not believe that all officers are bad and are driven to shoot by made up assumptions of individuals that produce fears. I was lucky that night, but if I had gotten one of the bad officers my voice would be reduced to a hashtag. It is hard being Black in a world that was not built for you but by you. As a black individual I am constantly combated with racism on a daily basis due to the assumptions people have about me. When people see me as a black woman a lot of people label me as a problem, because they feel as if they know me. I have been told to my face, "I thought you were going to be one of THOSE Black people." The "THOSE" that they were referring to were the black people that the media paints to be all of us. They thought I was going to be loud, uneducated, and on my way to always creating problems.
First of all, there is no way to correctly be Black. If you were born with high melanin, then you are Black. It does not matter how you wear your hair, what music you listen to, or how many non-Black friends you have. There is a problem in America and the best way to fix it is to...
1. Come To Terms With Our Blackness
Coming to terms with your blackness is realizing the history of your people and doing what you can to make sure that history does not repeat itself. It is not enough to look in a mirror and see that you are black. You have to realize that certain problems are plaguing our community, because of our color. We have to realize that the government has created cycles to keep us quiet and dependent on them. Better yet, you have to learn how to love yourself. We cannot seek change for anything unless we are confident in who we are as a person.
2. Do Not Get Upset At People Who Do Not Realize There Is A Problem
We have to realize that everyone will not understand. A lot of people have been raised by people who feel a certain way about Black individuals. These people have been raised with the mindset that we are ALL equal when in fact we are not. Primarily Black neighborhoods are more patrolled than primarily white neighborhoods. We often receive longer jail sentences than people of other races who committed that same crimes. When people bring up bad things that organizations have done and want to shout "ALL LIVES MATTER" do not show anger. Show compassion. They don't understand what it means to be Black, and that is okay. But do educate them on why we are saying it. Educate them of the history that has led to this moment. Tell them how sorry you are that the sniper choose to shoot ten officers, because that's not what this movement is about. Tell them that you do not condone violence or ignorance to accomplish your rights. Tell them that you are fighting to be seen as an equal because black lives matter too!
3. Know Your History
Black people have a history with America since we were brought over here on ships from Africa. We have a history of being slaves. Then once we obtained our freedom after the Civil War we were still in bondage. We still had to work the master's land because we had no other way to earn money. We had to work long hours for very measly pay. As time went on the world became more industrial. We began working in factories and not just fields, but after a long day of work we could not sit at a table and get something to eat. We could not sit as soon as we got on the bus, we had to walk all the way back. People started protesting, organizations were created, and progress was made. Here and there we had a few setbacks, but we were still going strong. Well we thought we were going strong, until we noticed that black people were being incarcerated and killed at an alarming rate by an organization that was built to protect everyone. We have now realized that those long years of slavery and the mindset that Black people are not worth anything are coming to bite back. We have realized that the stereotype of Black people are real. Maybe some officers do feel threatened when dealing with a Black man during a traffic law, but it is not because he was a nuisance or hostile, it is because he was Black.
4. Be Calm When Explaining Your Views
People do not deal well with name calling, screaming, and finger pointing. I understand that you are tired of not being heard. I understand that you are frustrated with your brothers and sisters dying in the streets. I understand that you are frustrated for their bodies staying on the ground for hours and sometimes even days. I understand that your heart is heavy, but realize that violence will solve nothing. We have to learn how to fight this fight with kind words and not bullets. Your voice will be heard.
5. Take Action
A lot of people talk about the injustice, but they take no action upon it. To change things you have to act upon it, you cannot just say you want to change things and then sit there. If you cannot march or protest, then educate others. Use your social media platform or your fashion statements to speak out about the injustice. Every little bit of attention to a problem will make it seen and the issues heard!
These are just some things we can do to bring justice to all those families that have lost someone due to violence of police brutality or civilian duty brutality. Thanks to Atlanta, Dallas, London, New York City, and the many other cities that led peaceful protests in light of what happened.
When African Americans first came to America we did not understand that mistreatment we were going through. When we became educated we started understanding the mistreatment of our brothers and sisters. Then we started wanting to be treated as equals because we didn't see how the color of our skin stopped us from doing anything differently than anyone else. After slavery and servitude we became employed in factories and started making a living, but our children still could not get an equal education. We were still making lower wages than our counterparts. We learned that the equality we fought for was not given to us. We learned that the colored side and the white side was different.
Therefore we started to fight for the equal rights to drinking water, equal rights to education, and the equal rights for freedom. After the death of many of our influential leaders like Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, and Martin Luther King Jr and the incarcerations of many of our leaders like Angela Davis and Rosa Parks we thought we had made progress when things had changed.
We started moving up in the corporate world and the world of medicine. We started making strides in history and we started to see ourselves as equals. And then we started sending our children to gas stations and letting them drive on the streets and they were getting pulled over and being gunned down. The officers and civilians that did it were not convicted or put behind bars. They were able to go home to their families while we stared at the door hoping it was all a dream. We started noticing that our men were being incarcerated at an extremely high rate and that their jail sentences were longer than their white counter parts. So we started speaking up. We started wanting equality and we wanted Black Lives to start mattering to the government and others, because we finally realized that they had not.
I understand if you do not get it. I understand if you do not know what it feels like for you to get stopped in a nice neighborhood, just because you look like you don't belong. I understand if you do understand the grief we go through when another one of our brothers was gunned down in the street for walking while Black. I understand if you don't get that feeling of fear every time you step out your front door. I really do understand. Although, what I do not understand is the fact that you don't want to understand. We send our children to school to teach your children and to become doctors that stand between life and death for you. We send our children overseas so you can sleep at night. We have been fighting for the freedoms of everyone else and now that we want to fight for our own you want to point out everything wrong that Black people have done? You want to group us in one category? You want to say that Black Lives Matter is stupid and ignorant? I find it very ignorant that a person does not understand what is going on and why there has to be a movement. I find it to be ignorant that a person has no want to gain knowledge to understand why everyone is upset. But I'm not going to be mad. I am just going to pray that one day God opens your eyes and I hope that on that day it's not too late. "If you have no interest for equal rights for black people, then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down." - Jesse Williams
"You don't have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being." - Malcolm X