It seems we are at war in this country, and throughout the world, but that’s always the case at any given point in human history, isn’t it? It’s all too much, but it will never be enough if we keep going down the same path. Human beings are proving to go more and more insane as time moves ever forward. We continue to do more of the same and expect different results. It is not only about race, it is about humanity and life and our growing disregard for these that are supposed to be the most precious.
In the wake of Michael Brown’s unfortunate and unnecessary death, I’ve seen lots of stories and comments about why it’s not actually an important cause. I read a story about a little white boy, cute as can be, who was apparently shot and killed by two young black men who were attempting to rob his mother. The story questioned why there was no apparent outrage for his senseless murder; it pointed out that if community members and leaders had come together to protest or if the media had constantly covered the circumstances leading to his death, or gone after the guys who killed him, it would be considered racist. I’ve read comments about how unfair it is that black people can have their own sororities and colleges and magazines, etc., but if white people were to attempt to do the same, that would be problematic. I’ve seen tweets questioning why there can be a National Black Caucus. The list of opposing ideas obviously is endless.
Being a Black girl, with brown skin and kinky hair, I know why and appreciate the fact that there is an AKA sorority or an Essence magazine or a Morehouse College. It’s because for an incredibly long time in this country, White people had the upper hand, and in some attempt to make amends or level the field or create some semblance of equal opportunity, we had to, as a society, as a country, put in place systems that allow for Blacks to have a fair shake, as they say. I know that I most likely benefited greatly from affirmative action. I mean, I graduated from Penn State, and while I was a pretty good student in high school, scored well on my SATs, and was involved in extra curricular activities, I also went on a lot of S.M.A.R.T bus trips with other black and brown kids, some of whom may not have ever considered Penn State or other major universities as an option otherwise. You draw your conclusions. I remember a few years ago when missing White girls grabbed all of the media attention, but NO ONE gave damn about or knew the names of missing Black children. Now, there is national outrage, sorrowful outcry, and community rallies when a young Black boy is shot and killed by police or George Zimmerman, or a paranoid White neighbor. To be honest, it all seems like trendy news coverage, and that is a huge problem because all of it ALL OF IT is wrong! A missing or murdered White girl is just as terrible as a Black boy struck down because he’s Black and wearing a hoodie. A White toddler being shot and killed by Black men is just as outrageous as a little Black boy being shot and killed in Chicago. A Jewish man being beaten to death is just as sick as a gay teenager being beaten to death. All of these should make us scared, sad, and angry simply because they are all people with families, and friends, living in communities. It’s really very simply and I cannot for the life of me understand why it doesn’t happen that way. Why are we always fighting for more coverage or outrage? Why are we always forced to be on opposing sides? Why do we insist on making life so “us or them”?
As stained with the blood, sweat, and tears of Black people (and other people of color) as this country’s land and flag may be, I am a proud American, and I love the United States almost as much as I love my heritage. I love that this is still a place where people from literally every corner of the globe come for opportunity. But how opportune is America if these systems and ideologies are still in place? On some level I understand the argument that it’s unfair for Black outrage to be accepted, but White outrage would be racist.
I’ve always wondered, how exactly are we ever to achieve true opportunity, true equality in this country? When will the field ever be level if we never put racism behind us? How can we ever hope to do so when black boys and men are still targeted, as young at 9 years old, by EVERYONE, including their own people? How are we ever to move forward if Blacks resent Whites for their inherent privilege and Whites insist on ignoring and capitalizing upon it at the same time? How are we ever to move forward if Blacks continue to make every single instance of violence between a black person and a person of another race about RACE? How are we ever to move forward if people continue to draw from stereotypes, treating Black boys and men as fearsome animals who must be put down, and Black girls and women as ghetto, hyper-sexualized objects? How are we ever to move forward when a large part of the Black community does little to combat those stereotypes, puts so much into solidifying them, but decides to protest when other races do the same thing? How are we ever to move forward if I’m “pretty for a black girl” or if my kinks aren’t as beautiful as my girlfriend’s curls? How are we ever to move forward if the people who are not Black or White don’t to get a say or matter in this larger discussion we seem to keep having and not having? If the conversation is ALWAYS Black and White? How are we ever to move forward if the loss of human life, no matter the race, does not spark outrage in all of us, no matter who is responsible? How are we to move forward if an animal is not considered an animal, a savage is not considered a savage, and a HUMAN BEING is not considered a HUMAN BEING, PERIOD?
I’m not saying that we brush race, race relations, and history under the rug; we can’t afford to trip over such an enormous lump as a human race. But is it possible that we all, from one singular moment on, decide to do all that we can not to let race color our views of the world? Is it possible for us to teach ourselves and, more importantly our children, that they truly are equally and all that matters is character? Is it possible for us all to learn that fostering our own ethnic, racial, sexual, and religious communities does not mean we threaten or forsake other communities?
Many times I’ve been told that I am naive to think or hope that war can be stopped when people just stop. The thing about war, from my point of view, is that everyone thinks they are justified; everyone thinks they are retaliating to some atrocity. The operative word here is EVERYONE. Everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Everyone is both the victim and the aggressor. By the time war breaks out, it is usually no longer clear who threw the first punch. And it simply should not matter. When countless lives are lost, each side needs to just wave the white flag.
We can’t keep suggesting that we “have a conversation”. We’ve been having it, but no one is actually listening. We just keep yapping over one another. We can’t keep protesting. We can’t keep teaching our children how not to be killed. We can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Even this blog post is a bit insane because it certainly is not the first and it surely won’t be the last….
So I ask, is it possible? Is it actually possible for us all to move forward as a human race, and put racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and all the other isms and phobias behind us?
Can we all learn that human life is valuable, point, blank, PERIOD? I certainly hope so, because I, for one, am exhausted.