Over the past month or so I’ve been in a serious mental slump. During that time, I thought deep and hard about the work I do with SAFE, evaluated the real impact it has on my community and how COVID has really made me feel like I’m fighting a battle I will never win. For me COVID has not only shown but it has widened the gap between communities of color and others. The system is not meant for us to win. They say knowledge is power and the key to success is through an education but how can we truly achieve greatness depending on a system that is stacked against us. A system that’s not equipped for us to learn…a system that prepares our students subconsciously for a prison environment despite the efforts of those incredible teachers and school administrators.
I finally get out of that slump to now witness yet another murder by the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve. As a young black man, I’ve had entirely too many life or death situations with law enforcement. Yes…life or death because I feel there was a 50% chance I wouldn’t see my parents again. I have dealt with police harassment for almost a year, I’ve been instructed to get out of my car for no reason, I’ve been called a dumbass and illiterate, I’ve gotten citations, I’ve gotten threatened, and of course the assumption that I was shot because I’m in a wheel chair which lead to an argument where me and a few associates were almost arrested all because I asked “why did you have to assume I got shot”.
Something as simple as buying a certain kind of car has serious implications. One day I decided to buy an Audi instead of a van against my parents’ wishes. They feared if I was pulled over and instructed to get out of the car me saying “I can’t” (without my chair) would be seen as not obeying and well…they feared I would be dragged out the car or worse, shot. I eventually stopped driving the car and got rid of it.
I say all of that to say life for black people is extremely hard in America and if you’re not outraged about witnessing the murder of George Floyd you need to take a look in the mirror. I don’t know what happened to cause him to be put in cuffs and I don’t care. What if your child was face down, handcuffed with arms behind their back screaming for you (mother), pleading for help, and yelling “I can’t breathe”? Would you be outraged then? Would you stand for justice then?
Our blackness should not be seen as a weapon and a threat. We should not be seen as worthless.
No matter what our accomplishments are or how much good we do in the world there will always be a ceiling due to the color of our skin. No matter the level of success we achieve we will always be reminded that we are black. We must always be conscious of how we present ourselves because we’re seen as representing our entire race. During times like this we are expected to show up every day with a smile on our face or we’re seen as the angry black person. America DOES NOT SEE US AS EQUALS.