Dear ___ People,
I can’t tell you the exact moment I realized what it meant to be considered “different.” Maybe it was when I was three and my friend compared me to a monkey because my hands were black but my palms where tan. Maybe it was when I was eight and someone called me a Negro. Or maybe it was when I was twelve and someone told me to get to the back of the bus because that’s where I belonged.
I can’t remember, and it doesn’t matter if I could because the point is that in the world we live in, people like myself are meant to feel different. Yet, it’s funny how we’re all considered so different when we are all so similar at the base of our composition.
Are we not all human? Do we not all have organs, and breathe, and feel?
I am a person first, black second. And until more people start to accept that, Ferguson will never stop. It’ll travel west, and climb its way up north, and before you know it we’ll be watching segments on CNN titled, “Syracuse”.
America has always prided itself on being so progressive, on being the “role model” of the world. But look at us—look at us.
We are a broken country. We’ve always been a broken country, but it has always been easier for America to sweep things under the rug and pretend as though things were never wrong. We don’t like to remember The Trail of Tears, or The Chinese Exclusion Act, or slavery because it reminds us of our faults.
And yet, in such a “right” country people are still being judged, discriminated against and killed for the color of their skin. I will never be able to wrap my head around the fact that people can find darker shades of skin so threatening when it is so harmless.
Skin cannot threaten you and it cannot kill you—a person does that.
So when I was talking to some people about Ferguson and an acquaintance told me, “When I’m a cop, if a black man comes charging at me I’d shoot him too,” you can only imagine the look on my face. It should never be, if a black man charges at me, it should be if a man charges at me; because this is not an “us versus you” or a “black versus white” issue, it’s a human rights issue.
My whole life I have had to deal with ignorant people and their ignorant statements about race and racism, and in 2014 I would have hoped we as a country would have cared enough to properly educate ourselves.
Situations like Ferguson, ignorance, it happens so often I no longer have the energy to be angry. I’m just sad, tired.
No one has all the facts about what happened between Darren Wilson and Mike Brown that day in Ferguson, but what I do know is that another unarmed black youth did not have to die, and certainly not in that way.
There is something very wrong when the institution put in place to protect people is the same one we fear. Oh wait, I forgot. That institution was originally put in place to only protect certain people.
If this is the kind of world we live in when it is time for me to have children, I’m not sure I want a son. To dread every time he says I’m going out; to pray he never gets pulled over by a cop [I am aware there are good cops out there too, though]; to have to tell him he needs to be at 200 percent all the time since people expect so much less of him because of his skin color.
Like many, America is the only home I have ever known; but I have come to realize America cannot be considered home, for me, when it has never fully recognized everyone as its people. I just live here.
So for all you people out there who are unsure about racism in America I have a message for you: You will never and can never know someone’s experiences in life until you live them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to understand by opening your eyes to what is happening around you and listening to those who have been tried to be silenced.
So Dear ____ People, educate yourselves.
Picture Courtesy of http://www.miseeharris.com
TOP PHOTO: Sundance
From the 2015 Sundance Film Festival: