Nearly two weeks after Jesse Williams’ speech went viral, stirring up what some called more division than unity, we encounter yet another event (now 2 in the past 48 hours) as to why those very words had to be spoken in the FIRST PLACE. In 2016.
Here are two things that I want people to understand:
- We never asked for division, that was established when people of African descent were brought to this Land.
Division continued to be infiltrated into our daily lives with segregation. Then, there was desegregation, but let’s not forget about the opposition and hate that came along with it.
Is it surprising to believe that non-Black people, who were probably pro-segregation and racist towards black people, passed down stories of hate to their families the way Black people passed down stories of fear, humiliation and defeat to their families? Not at all.
Yet, to this day, there are people who will swear that the hateful attitudes do not exist. They believe that race relations are only an issue because Black people bring them up. Sure. Maybe some attitudes have changed towards Black people. Maybe some people became more “accepting” of us, but does that mean that racism does not exist? No. To me, it seems like slavery, Black hardships and the Civil Rights Movement were supposed to just be forgotten or looked over like a tiny black hole in what is the American Story the minute Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a 450 word section in a history book.
- We never wanted to have to be conscious of our Blackness and continually be reminded that our lives as Black people in America do not mean a thing.
Racism persists, even in 2016, and technology has made that more evident than ever. So please do not ask us to forget or to stop complaining about something that never went away to begin with.
Is it surprising to believe that those same people, who were raised to have hate in their hearts for Black people, to think of them as inferior and responsible for their own problems, still feel that way; just as Black people still have to live in fear, humiliation and often feel defeated? Not at all.
Yes, some Black people were able to assimilate into society. Maybe some have non-Black friends who embrace their Blackness but does that mean that everything is okay for Black people in America? No. To me, it seems like no one wants to be reminded of our dark past that IS THE AMERICAN STORY and how even in the present day, it is still okay for a Black man to be shot down by a white cop who, after a few weeks, moves on with his life, his job and his beloved family like nothing ever happened.
To non-Black people, we’re just supposed to forgive and forget when we:
- never got our 40 acres and a mule.
- don’t get called for interviews because of what’s considered an “ethnic” name on a resume.
- are made to feel incompetent because our Black skin just has to be the only reason we’ve managed to have some success.
- get followed around while shopping out of fear that our Black skin automatically makes us thieves.
- see a noose hanging on a tree in the yard of a school that we attend.
- receive poor service at restaurants because of the assumption that Black people don’t tip well.
- get shot for being a black BOY and wearing a hoodie
- learn that our supervisor doesn’t think that our White friend should hang with us so much “because that’s not how the real world works”
- hear our college classmates screaming “Fxck you niggers” the minute after the first Black president is named.
- are racially profiled by police officers who think we do not deserve to be driving nice cars or living in certain neighborhoods
- go to an AME church and sit in the back because there are White People there and you’re not sure if they’re coming to massacre you in worship.
- ARE CONTINUALLY SHOT BY POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE NOT EVER HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR CRIMINAL ACTIONS, DESPITE THE EVIDENCE
Nah, that’s not going to happen. #AintNoForgettingBih!
In all seriousness, besides the first bullet, this stuff has all happened in my lifetime of 26 years and most of it in the past 8 years. So really, NO, we cannot forget and act like racism does not exist, or that we should feel guilty for believing that #BlackLivesMatter.
We cannot feel guilty about something that we never started, and please know that when people like Jesse Williams, people like myself and other Black people speak about OUR EXISTENCE in America, we are not creating division and racial uproars. We are simply trying to change our story, earn the respect, justice and freedom that we should have been given years ago — since, in the words of a dear friend, “This is our shit anyway.”
Tabresha is a D.C. Metro transplant who loves the beach and tanning cheeks. She doesn’t always rock a twist out, but when she does, it’s poppin.