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  • Writer's pictureLauren

To be Black in America in 2020

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

To scroll down Instagram and twitter and see the life of someone who looks like you, who could be your father or your brother, your mother or your sister taken with no regard for their humanity is a feeling that cuts so deep I don't know how to explain it. Every time a black man or woman dies without cause it takes a toll on us all, not only Black people, but our whole country. Every time a Black person is murdered it seeps into our collective consciousness and tells us that our lives are not valued and that we do not matter. Yet, we do not let this inform who we are, we fight for ourselves, we come together and we tell the world unequivocally that Black Lives DO Matter. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Trayvon Martin. Eric Gardner. Ahmaud Arbery. Tamir Rice. There's so many more who's names never made it into the spotlight, who's lives mattered too. These are the moments that inform the movement.

But, they are not just moments, they are people who we continue to hold up and fight for. These are the people that fuel our pain.

This is a pain that has never been fully captured by the mainstream media, that will continue to be misconstrued and undermined. To be Black in America means seeing our brothers and sisters murdered on the streets. Their only defense being a cell phone camera that will make sure their name is carried on when the system tries to cover it up.

To me, it's been inspiring to see everyone coming together from different walks of lives to affirm that Black Lives Matter, not to those who are Black but to those around America and to those around the world. As great it is to see all this support it has caused me to ask myself a lot of questions. Where was all this support before? Where was everyone else when mothers were in the streets screaming and crying about their dead Black sons and daughters? Where was everyone else when Black people told their stories of institutional racism and brutality to the world? Why did it take a video of a man with a knee on his neck for 8 minutes for people to decide to care? I do not ask them because I do not want the support but because we've needed people to step up for so long.

It is important to understand that this is not a moment, this is a movement. This is not the time for performative activism, posting a black screen on Instagram and wiping your hands of it or writing a statement with no actions tied to it. It is not the time to talk over those whose experiences and voices have been systematically and undermined and cut out. This is the time to listen, learn and absorb what Black people are saying, and have been saying for decades. This is the time to make strides towards equality. To make sure that our voices are heard, to advocate, to vote. When we talk about Black liberation and equality we are talking about correcting the past and there is a lot of correcting to be done. Slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, redlining, police brutality, the list goes on and hasn't stopped growing. The oppression that is faced by Black people may change names but the impact is the same. It is time for a change.

As a country, if we are going to make change we need to do it fully. We need to look at the principles that this country was founded on and how we have deviated from that. We claim to be a country that is for the "pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", a place where all men are created equal. Yet, even when writing those words there was the inherent contradiction of the existence of slavery. 400 years later the contradiction continues. We continue to see that contradiction everyday, baked into how this country operates. White men and women can walk around fully armed, protest in the face of police officers over haircuts and massages and barely an eye is batted. When Black people peacefully protest they are met with brutality, shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed. White people are called protestors, Black people are called rioters and thugs. There is the promise of equality in the United States but there is abhorrent wealth disparities as a result of discrimination, there is less educational opportunity for Black students, harsher sentencing, more brutality towards Blacks, racial profiling and a host of other things that contradict the words of the constitution that America hold most dearly.

To be successful as a movement we need to recognize the contradiction that this country has been living since its inception. It's like an abusive relationship, we say one thing, that we want love and peace and equality, but our actions say otherwise. Actions always speak louder than words. To recon with this history we first have to recognize it. We then have to take action to dissolve it.

We are tired of the inequality, the lack of justice, the pain that our people feel. Fannie Lou Hamer said it best, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired." We are sick and tired, but that does not mean we give up. It means we organize to make change. It means we make strides to see the change that we want. Being tired only pushed us towards further change. It only pushes us to want to see this change faster. We are seeing it all around us, protests that have gone on for weeks, protesters taking over city streets, streets being renamed, and most important; corrective policies starting to be made. For centuries we have been tired, our spirits have been worn and threatened, but never broken. Though we are tired we will not break. We will not stop until we force change upon this country that was built on our back.

To be Black in America is to know that a part of you, and your ancestors, have continuously fed this country at the risk of your own starvation. To be Black means to continue on, to continue fighting and resisting, continuing to defy the expectations of everyone around us. It means coming together as a community, supporting one another, creating, innovating. To be Black in America is to be resilient and determined, proud and beautiful. It is to continuously realize that we are our ancestors' wildest dreams and can continue to be much more.

Here are some ways to be active in the movement for Black Lives!

& on that note,

Black Lives Matter Unequivocally



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