I personally have never spoken out about racism in the US, and at this point cannot continue to hold my tongue. I’m 25 years old, and live in fear.
I grew up well off, in a primarily white community in New Jersey. For the most part, I was sheltered from the reality of racism, and really chose not to believe that it could still exist.
I moved to North Carolina in 2005 and finally got to see the ugly face of what racism actually is. For example, white kids excessively displaying the confederate flag as if it wasn’t the flag that represented the enslavement of blacks for over 600 years. Just kidding, they knew, and just didn’t care. Thankfully, I’d say 50% of these flags say “the south will rise again”….. WORD! The worst part is the same people try to validate that the flag isn’t racist. I don’t care what the reasoning is… what type of message are you trying to send African Americans by honoring that flag?
People describing certain African-Americans with phrases like “hood-ass black dude," and “straight up thugs," not recognizing that I have an entire extended family that could fall in that demographic , which means SO DO I!
Telling me that because I choose to dress nice and speak correctly that I’m “acting white” and that “I’m not actually black.” What type of bullshit logic is that? Please know, that if you’ve ever said that to me, I have never forgotten your ignorant labeling of what I represent as a young, successful black man. But again, I’ve stayed quiet as I always chose to believe that the world is a fair place, and also that people were generally just being ignorant to what they were actually saying. It’s not their fault, it’s how they were raised and they sincerely meant no malice.
I will admit, for a good number of my white friends, I’m their only black friend. So let’s use that as an excuse. Why not?
I’ve since graduated college, moved to the DMV area near America’s capital and now work in DC at a professional environment that embraces individuality, acceptance, and inclusion no matter who you are or what your background is. DC definitely has its flaws, but overall it’s one of the most culturally diverse places in the United States, which is exactly what I was looking for after graduation.
When Michael Brown was murdered in August of 2014, the country shook. There was violent rioting in the south again. For the first time, I cried at the thought of African American’s feeling that it was necessary to make such a huge scene just to get the country’s attention.
Brown’s murder started a string of race violence in the US. Questions weren’t answered and more and more instances of racial injustice were uncovered throughout forums such as social media, television, and printed news.
Cops beating little kids, shooting un-armed civilians, and the black lives matter movement all became trending topics of conversation in major media. There was an increase in social media traffic of blacks and whites defending their race and their own personal morals/beliefs.
All of this happens, and still, I tried my best to believe that the days of racism and hate crimes were mostly in the past. Racism can’t actually still be a thing right?… It was hard but I tried. Today I cannot continue that mindset. Racism is real. It’s all around us and is a cancer that seemed to be under control on the surface, but is absolutely tearing our nation apart to the point of destruction. The United States is on the brink of serious chaos.
On July 5th, 2016 police officers executed… hold on…EXECUTED… Alston Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA. The incident was taped by two witnesses, and I watched both videos in their entirety. The cops in the video never gave Mr. Sterling a chance. Once they realized he was armed, the cops screamed, “gun” and drew their weapons. Mr. Sterling did not move, flinch or grab towards their guns or his own. He was totally pinned down, and then they shot him like a dog, point blank, in the chest. For good measure, they squeezed off a couple more rounds as well.
I watched as Mr. Sterling laid on the ground, motionless, blood leaking rapidly from the gunshot wounds in his chest. His eyes were rolled back in his head, and you could tell he was alive from a few slight twitches. After a brief silence you can see one of the cops enter the frame and grab, what appears to be a gun from Mr. Sterling’s pocket. Alston Sterling died that evening.
The murder of Alston Sterling was the final straw. This event instilled a new fear in me, while painting a picture of what is actually going on all over the United States. With that being said, here’s my message to black men:
It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you are, or how much money you have. You can be next.
You could be out at a convenience store and cops show up responding to a 911 call to apprehend a perpetrator who’s described appearance conveniently matches your own. Black. Boom your dead. You can be walking down the street in your sweats, and be mistaken for a gang banger, or thug who’s description, again, conveniently matches yours. Black. Boom your dead. You can be pulled over by a police officer for a routine traffic stop because one of your tail lights is out, and get shot because… well because the cop just shot you. Boom your dead.
Just ask the family of Philando Castile, who was killed the same week as Alston Sterling. That incident was taped as well and is equally heartbreaking, with the two eye witnesses being Castile’s girlfriend (who taped the aftermath) and daughter.
We are black, and there is a target on our backs. It is what it is, and everyday it needs to be our personal obligation to understand that fact and act as if. Do not allow yourself to be mistreated. Understand your rights, and don’t let anyone take them from you. Let’s retaliate racial persecution by voting, excelling through academia, succeeding in the work place, and becoming leaders in your community.
America is as much our country as it is anyone else’s, and we must take action in a constructive manner. Don’t riot, or destroy the community. Uplift your fellow brother and understand his struggle. Don’t allow anyone to say things derogatory about anyone of color. EVER! If people say, “Well what about everyone else’s lives, do they matter?” You can respond with, “Sure they do, and when everyone else’s children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters start getting murdered at the same rate as blacks here in the US, then we’ll worry about their lives too.”
In conclusion, I am sad, angry, and frightened that I live in a nation that has changed so little since Jim Crow and slavery. No we are not in chains, and segregation is over, but everyday there are subtle reminders that Black people are different in a negative way. With a general election that fields a racist (Donald Trump) as one of the primary candidates representing one of the two largest political parties in the US, it’s time for American’s to accept the fact that racism is very, VERY, real. There’s no “deal” that can be made to alleviate the issue and cure the US of the racism virus.
It’s going to take some effort from a good majority of the country, no matter what color, to change the way things are. There are those that won’t change, but hopefully we can start to move towards a resolution, because if not, the race issue in the US will only get worse. MUCH MUCH WORSE!
Stop the labeling. Stop the hate. Let people live. I personally will not put up with racism anymore, or any type of hate for that matter. So if you’re not on board with making our country an equal, peaceful place to live…Fuck. You.
Thanks and god bless.
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