Yesterday I saw one of my Facebook friends say "Slavery was so long ago. We are past that. We are beyond black and white." *deep sigh*
I could not respond. Not right then. This person is a highly intelligent person, so I was truly stunned that she would believe that we have evolved so far beyond America's original sin that its no longer an issue. NOT TRUE! So many need to understand that racism in America is far beyond the image of the KKK burning a cross on a black family's lawn. It is easy to say you aren't a racist if that is your litmus test. Racism is so entrenched in the fabric of America, that it is hard to spot out how it has evolved over the years.
However, to my Facebook friend, I wanted to highlight how Slavery/Jim Crow/Segregation are not that far removed from me, your former schoolmate:
- The Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. My MOTHER was born in 1961. My MOTHER was born without the right to vote.
- My Aunt Rosalie attended the University of Pennsylvania for her masters degree. Not because that was her first choice school, but because the University of Maryland did not want black teachers to attend their school; so the state paid for them to go anywhere in the country for their education.
- My grandfather can not read or write because he couldn't go to school pass the second grade. He had to be a share cropper in North Carolina at a young age to help his family pay back their debts to the land owner.
- My grandmother attended one of the only TWO high schools in Baltimore that accepted black students -- Frederick Douglass High School. Black kids in Baltimore prior to desegregation had only two choices -- if you lived on the West side you went to Douglass; if you live on the East side you went to Dunbar.
So please tell me again how long ago this was? Looking at this timeline, I might be one of the few people in my family born with all of my American rights, appertaining thereunto. The silence and excuses are insulting!
To be a true ally, will require you to get uncomfortable, admit that racism exist, and then do some work to address it. Step one, simply acknowledge its existence. Racism today might not be burning crosses but police murdering unarmed black people. So before you are dismissive of what your black and brown friends are feeling, take a minute an think. The timeline speaks for itself. Step two, start talking to people and get to work.
Another simple way you can help, when you hear someone exclaim "All Lives Matter," shut them down and explain what "Black Lives Matter" really means. Let them know it is not saying that other lives don't matter, but Black Lives need attention right now. Don't let your friends and family go around taunting that non-sense. Your voice matters in this fight, in fact it is NEEDED now more than ever!
Please remember, your rights were included in the Constitution. My rights were Amendments. So kindly shut the fuck up or demand accountability too! We've been trying for centuries to get freedom, now is the time for you to try too!