We know something for sure, the year 2020 will go down in history as a year to remember. We are not only in a global pandemic that has affected millions of people and the economy, but we are also in a fight to dismantle systemic racism that has been affecting the black community for centuries. That was a mouthful, and we aren’t even halfway through the year yet.
And maybe for you, life will go on as normal once things kick into a ‘new normal,’ but for me, the landscape of the world is different than I’ve ever seen it before. For 400 years we have been fighting the fight against systemic oppression that has made it nearly impossible for black folks to rise above and beyond. For 400 years we haven’t been valued equally in all realms of life. And if that wasn’t enough, we are seeing countless, senseless deaths of so many black and brown folks at the hands of police – people who are supposed to be protecting us.
Some might say that everything happening is just from outliers. No, there are so many times throughout my life where I was treated differently just because of my skin color. And I’m just one person. The system was designed to set us back. And honestly, it still happens, but for me, in less instances, as I get older. One time that will forever change me was when I was 16, at my job a customer referred to me as “the little colored girl” and said she didn’t want me touching her cake that she had ordered. Not one person out of the five or so that heard her stood up in my defense. That is a prime example of staying silent, and that is where our nation has always fallen short for centuries.
I feel that the unrest of our nation has (hopefully) reached a tipping point. People are starting to open their eyes and realize that in order for change to happen, they actually have to open their mouths and speak up about the injustices they see. They have to speak to their children, they have to have uncomfortable conversations – like the ones we’ve always been having. Keeping quiet may feel like you’re not alienating anyone, but when the world has stopped to focus on human rights issues, silence is louder than speaking.
Our nation is crying out in more ways than I or anyone has ever seen before. Is this finally the radical change we’ve been hoping for for so long? Your choice to stay silent says a lot about who you are to me. Our country has a lot of work to do, but being bold and maybe even making mistakes is what needs to happen for change to happen. Learn, listen, and do the uncomfortable work of dismantling an unjust system. It isn’t enough to be against racism. How will you choose to show up for your community during this time and do the work of anti-racism?