What It Means To Be Black In America

Hey, welcome and thanks for reading.

A lot happened last week and even though the media isn’t covering it, a lot is STILL happening this week. Protests, indictments, rioting and some cities still have curfews in place.

First the world was on pause because of COVID-19, but now it’s in shambles. And I mean, if we’re being honest, the world has been in shambles, everything is just being brought to light now and we can no longer ignore it.

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers was the last straw for my people.

The last straw for EVERYONE, really. Definitely the last straw for me. Honestly I have been extremely desensitized and under a rock since George Zimmerman wasn’t found guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin. So I pretty much turned a blind eye to all of the similar cases that happened after his. Of course though, I have heard of Mike Brown, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, Nia Wilson, Korryn Gaines, Atatiana Jefferson, and many others. I’ve heard and said their names out of respect but I never spent too much time learning the specifics of their cases because the disappointment was just too heavy on me when Zimmerman did not get the punishment he deserved.

I didn’t want to feel that disappointment ever again so I just chalked it up to, “Police officers are going to continue getting away with killing black people because if they feel threatened they can and they will shoot you. Simple.”

But George Floyd’s death was like enough is enough. I tried to turn a blind eye like I usually do but I could not. And neither could others. I feel like I’ve had a blindfold on and someone just came and ripped it off. That’s exactly what it feels like. I don’t know if it’s because of social media or what, but I couldn’t avoid the media, I couldn’t avoid the disappointment and all of the information that I had been avoiding for years!

I could feel my own pain and the pain of my people, seeing them rioting and protesting. I wanted to help in some way. I’m not 12 (I think that’s old I was when we found out about Trayvon) anymore. I can actually do something. So I attended a few protests.

One at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

One in Foley Square.

One in Far Rockaway, Queens.

And one in Harlem. We walked from Harlem to Times Square.

Now these protests weren’t too violent, but the one in Times Square is the one that’s sticking with me because of what I saw while I was there.

I went to all of the protests with my camera but it died in Times Square. When you’re looking at something through your own eyes instead of through a screen or a lens, it hits you differently. It hit me differently. Granted, I had put my camera down several times throughout the protest to just participate in certain chants; there were a lot of people in Times Square and they were ANGRY. The energy at this protest was very raw and pure.

Pure rage.

I saw cops smirking, laughing, legs shaking, waving batons, just ready for a fight. A group of officers to arrest one man and they kept calling more and more over. I saw a black woman who wasn’t resisting arrest still being manhandled. Two more black women arrested and I saw a good amount of black men get arrested too. I saw all of this within about 5 minutes and it brought tears to my eyes. These events weren’t spread out. They were all happening at the same time. And of course my camera died right before all of this ensued. It was serving as my blindfold in this moment because all that I had seen after it died was eye opening.

Black people are being oppressed every second of everyday, all over the world, and we know nothing about it. Just because we don’t know that doesn’t mean it isn’t still happening and doesn’t mean that it’s not wrong.

Enough is enough.

Black people are not a threat to society simply because of the color of our skin, yet at the protest in Times Square, the protesters began moving the barricades in front of the police. It was performative, they were trying to basically prove the point that it is always going to US vs THEM. BLACK VS BLUE. The sight of this brought more tears to my eyes because I hate that there has to be a divide. It saddens me that we have been fighting this for 400 years and still no real progress has been made.

When will it end?

Sadly, I think never. The idea that black people are inferior, threatening, angry, don’t feel pain, and the many other stereotypes are embedded in our country’s history. I think that our government will just get better and better at TRYING to sweep us under the rug, throw us a bone or two here and there, but the injustice will continue. And I know that sounds really pessimistic because I know some cities are currently working on defunding their police departments and I heard that NYC is working on repealing 50A, (we the people, cannot see police officers disciplinary records basically) which is what people have been protesting about. So the protests are working, yes. But, let’s be real. THE LAWS HAVE NEVER PROTECTED US BEFORE. Some protesters feel like we need a revolution and to overthrow the government. I agree.

Do I believe that black people deserve better? Yes. But do I believe that we will actually get all of the justice and all of the change that we deserve? No, because the laws have NEVER completely protected ALL of us before.

But in the meantime, what will I do? I will continue to sign petitions, donate where and when I can, keep protesting and keep educating others when I am able to. I think we should all continue doing these things even though the media is kind of dying down with covering the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests and injustices are still happening out there. There still hasn’t been any justice for Breonna Taylor, so yeah we can’t be silent. We have to have these conversations. We have to keep fighting for our rights, I mean after all, that is the epitome of what it means to be black in America.

On a lighter note, I have been working on a series named “Letters about Love” and I think with all of this going on in the world right now, this is the perfect time to drop it. (I’ve been sitting on this idea for so long) So the next post will be the beginning of that series!

Once again thanks for reading.

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