To be completely honest, I did not want to to write this. I wanted to try and keep things light. One thing this pandemic has taught me though is to just let it out. So I’ll say it, I’m not okay.
I already wasn’t okay with being locked in my home in constant fear of Covid-19. The pandemic was enough to make us all not okay. The past few weeks have been filled with constant reminders of the racial injustice in our country. Quite frankly, its become a load far too heavy to bear.
I grew up in a progressive town that was the first school district in the nation to voluntarily integrate in 1965. It gave us all a sense of pride.
The town was not without its problems, but for the most part it was a great place to grow up. It did give me a false sense of reality though . While I definitely experienced moments of subtle racism as every black girl does, it was never explicit. So, I never made a big deal of it.
I was not comfortable talking about race growing up. It felt like it was in poor taste like talking about money. I always said to myself that of course if something happened to me or someone that was truly racist I’d say something. No need to make a big deal over a small comment.
Flash forward to my freshman year of college, when a Scottish soccer player is pouring me beer from the keg. I accidentally pull out my cup while he is still pouring so some spills on the floor. He says, “Fucking nigger.”
It felt like a slap. It stung. Here was my moment to say something as I said I would. Instead, I walk away. I didn’t even tell the friends I was with. Not because I was worried that they would make a scene, but because I was worried they wouldn’t. I didn’t want to know.
Honestly, that’s why I didn’t talk about race in general. I didn’t want to know. Once you know, you can really never look back.
After Trayvon Martin was murdered, the levee broke. What I didn’t want to know flooded right to me. To me, there was no question of who was right and who was wrong. So, I was shocked that people felt otherwise. The things they said, the ways they tried to stain Trayvon’s name, it was eye-opening.
In the years that have followed, my eyes are wide open and any semblance of discomfort talking about about race is completely gone. People, human beings, who lived and loved are being reduced hashtags. We say, “Say his (or her) name” until the next one and the next one and the next one. Because there will always be a next one.
This past week was really hard for me. It started with a video of a woman in Central Park calling the police on a man for asking her to leash her dog (as per park rules). She made a point of mentioning that he was black because she knew what those words can do.
I was in Central Park that exact day. In fact since the pandemic hit, I’ve spent more time in Central Park than I ever have in my life. So, this story really hit me.
Christian Cooper, the man recording the video, is an avid bird watcher and Harvard graduate. His bio would put many to shame. In the end, financial status, education, job title, etc. won’t keep us safe. In the end, it all comes down to our skin color.
Just as Christian Cooper’s story was winding down (woman in video lost her job, reputation, respect, and her little dog too). George Floyd’s story comes to light. A police officer literally put his knee on George’s neck while he screamed, “I can’t breathe”, and called out for his mother. They murdered him.
This comes on heels of the video of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. A video that the police always had, but took 72 days to charge the killers. Only after it came out and there was public outrage.
So I guess I have to ask, why? Why do they keep killing us? Why do they keep harassing us for simply existing? Why?
I experienced a lot of death in high school. I lost my last three living grandparents and a close friend in less than two years. My friend and grandfather died within a month of each other right before my senior year. My grandfather died the night before my first day of school.
When you lose someone there is this strange feeling. Everyone is happy and moving on with their lives around you. You have this feeling of anger towards them. How can they be so happy when it feels like I’m crumbling inside? How is joy even possible when my world is falling apart?
Strangely, that’s what the past few days have felt like for me in regards to white people. Not all, but many. How could you share your workout routines, banana bread, and loungewear right now? How could you do that and not even take a moment, A MOMENT, to acknowledge that black people are being viciously harassed and murdered.
Especially this week. How?
Just because it’s not happening to you does mean it’s not your problem. These are humans, this is everyone’s problem. If you’re not actively fighting the injustices black people face, you’re supporting it. If you’re not bringing light to these situations, you’re condoning it. Now is not the time to be silent.
Say something. Say anything. Keep saying it over and over and over again. That’s what we as black people have been doing for centuries. This load is far too heavy to bear and it is time for you to join us.
I’m emotionally drained. I’m exhausted. I’m not okay.