If you claim not to be racist, or if you do, especially if you’re white, please read this. I am angry. If you know me well, you’ve probably rarely or never heard me say this. But how can I be informed about a monumental injustice towards innocent life and not be moved or shaken?
Last night I finally took the time to become more informed about the current #BlackLivesMatter movement and the history behind it by watching the documentary “13th” amongst further discussion (by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, I urge you to watch it). Though I’ve been somewhat informed about racial tensions and histories, I admit that I hadn’t fully researched the current movements. What I discovered is both heart breaking and outrageous all at once. For those who may not be aware, 1/4 of the entire worlds current imprisoned human beings reside in the USA despite us making up only 5% of the global population… “Land of the Free”. Although only about a tenth of the population of USA is black, over 40% of 2.3 million imprisoned inmates (more than the entire population of my birth city Houston, TX) and a majority of the longer sentences are being served by black citizens, and an almost equally large percentage by hispanic americans. What many including I don’t know on the outside, are the systematic and historic ongoing oppressions that have led to this current state.
Our country has been in the hands of predominantly white male leaders for centuries, all of whom have stemmed from the original source of slavery, the original “fathers” of this nation, and who have lacked the empathy to relate to people of color and their struggles. When slavery was abolished, as most people should know, it was basically just replaced with segregation, lynching, and other dehumanizing mechanisms, especially mass incarceration of black people. Fast forward to today, and the laws that protect our under-qualified police force basically allow blatant disregard for life and murder of innocent victims. Victims of color predominantly. To be born a person of color in the USA is to be born into a life of fear and inequality to lighter skinned counterparts. If you are white, you cannot know how this feels, however you can try to become informed and to empathize with those enduring through the pain. More importantly, you can contribute to movements and solutions that will continue claiming equality for people of all racial backgrounds. At a minimum, I believe it is our responsibility to respond to the information we know to be real and important and to share it with others who may be uninformed.
5 years ago, my parents decided to become foster parents. What our family didn’t know at the time is that our love for Darnell, who came to us at 3 months old, and our love for Ellie who came to us two years later, would lead us to adopt two incredibly bright souls into our family. Darnell and Ellie happen to be black; what was already evident to me before is exponentially present on the forefront of my mind now- it is my responsibility and duty to defend and protect my brother and sister and all of my friends and family of color.
So what can you do in response? For starters- DON’T be afraid to discuss race and the current issues surrounding it with your family, friends, and peers- its only uncomfortable if you make it. Talking about issues is the only way to work through them. DO watch 13th, and take some time to explore http://blacklivesmatter.com/ to see how you can contribute to the movement. I would also recommend the short documentary MTV did "White People". Also please check out Shaun King on Facebook and join the Injustice Boycott at http://www.injusticeboycott.com/ if you want to be even further informed about related news. As Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Our Lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. He also said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”. We are facing a cause that matters, every single one of us- what we need now is faith in ourselves and each other, faith that humanity can overcome its present burdens. Please join me in beginning the end to this injustice, and in whatever way you see fit, please share this message. #BlackLivesMatter