Over the past few months we have embraced what is known as a pandemic called COVID19 or coronavirus. We were told to stay at home as a way to “flatten the curve”. We were told to wear masks to help stop the spread of the virus. This was guidance that was given to us by the medical experts. However, I started to see a trend amongst those that looked like me. There were articles and comments made about how wearing a masks to cover up our faces to protect our health and assist in making sure others were healthy was a death threat for black men. Why? They are already being targeted based on their appearance, add a mask and the fear rises. So now not only do they have to worry about being a threat while doing normal every day things now they have to worry about being a threat doing normal every day things while trying to stay safe and healthy. Oh did I mention that they also have to worry about staying safe while literally trying to stay safe? A black man by the name of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while jogging because he “fit the description of someone who “looked like” a burgurlary suspect. Then we have Miss Breonna Taylor who was murdered, sleeping while black because police believed that the person they were looking for lived there. However, he was already in custody. Then we have the case of Mr. George Floyd who was handcuffed and died when an officer placed his knee in his neck as he stated he couldn’t breath and minutes later he died. Oh and let’s not forget the case of Mr. Christian Cooper, the black man who was simply birdwatching in central park when Amy Cooper felt threatened because he was “in the bushes” with his phone. She delibertly called 911 so he would get arrested. If you watch the video she used the right buzz words to intensify the situation. He was not murdered but if things did not go right, and what I mean by right is if he did not personally record his incident as proof he may have been another victim of fear and racism. See these are all situations that could have been avoided had the individuals been treated like human beings from the start. Instead they were treated as threats due to fear. What type of fear? I am not sure because I don’t know what they were thinking at the time but only fear makes you act and think later. Racism makes you act without thinking or caring about human life period. With these four incidents alone, social media has been on fire. Over the past few weeks, emotions, opinions, and outcries have been at an all time high. Including mine. I have been overly protective while my husband goes for his morning walk, calling him every thirty minutes to make sure he is okay or walking with him so he is not alone. I have even gone as far as to facetime him while he goes to the store to pick up essentials to make sure no one has approached him as he is shopping while black. My anxiety is on 1,000 these days.
While on social media, talking to or video chatting with friends, what I have seen is ALOT of PAIN. Words spoken by people that look like me are out of pain. I hear their pain. The words written by people that look like me are out of pain. The tears that keep falling are due to the souls that are crying that no one hears. The tears keep falling due to the words being spoken and written that have no sound. The pain and tears are falling and felt because people that look like me feel they have no voice. They are or have been silenced. Do you know who some of those people are? The people in the military that look like me that are silenced by #AllLivesMatter#Idontseecolor#Weareoneracethehumanrace. The people that look like me that are told we are all brothers and sisters in arms but the only ones that are standing with them or up for them are their brothers and sisters that look like them. Don’t get me wrong there are some allies within the ranks that are standing right there with us and in some cases using their voice to speak on our behalf or echo what we are saying but what about the ones who continue to silence us out of fear or racism or both? Don’t #Allvoicesmatter? If so, then why is it when we try to bring you our pain so that you understand, you plug your ears or put tape over our mouths by pointing out how far we have come…#44 or #18 is always the example. If we are all in this together then why is my pain treated with a trial medical treatment, while your pain is treated with the best experts and medications within the field? If we are in this together why are your forums good for all of the other issues the world faces except the combination of fear and racism? I am tired. Tired of reading about the double standards that people like me face. I am tired of reading about another black man whose life was taken away based on someone’s fear. I am tired of reading about another black women who was killed based on a mistake. I am tired of hearing about freedom of speech when my words will never be free. I am tired of seeing your tears when mine will no longer fall. I am tired of being in spaces that appear to accept me but accept everyone except me. I am tired of looking for a safe space because these spaces are not safe but you want to call me out for making my own safe space for people like me to stay safe and say it shouldn’t be about race. Well you are right. It shouldn’t be but it IS and until we can openly talk about it and agree on how to fix it. It will always be a different America for you and me.
Call to Action: I ask that you figure out where you fit into this and adjust accordingly. If you are in pain…find a way to release that pain. People don’t get to tell you how to grieve and they definitely don’t get to tell you how to heal.Use YOUR voice: Speak up for those that can’t find or at this moment can’t use their voice. Some pain cannot be displayed in words and to be honest, some of us really don’t have anything left to say. *You don’t get to tell others how to use their voice or display their pain.*Don’t silence others: Be a safe space or a listening ear. Know when to use your voice. Stop apologizing: We are numb to those words…I’m Sorry is only effective when there is action behind the words that are being spoken.Do your research and get active: Ask questions, read, ask more questions, read some more, then get active and be a true ally and help where you can even if it makes you uncomfortable. Then look for ways to help (Ex. use your platform(s), support organizations, echo our concerns, etc.).It is not too late, you can start today.