Death By Color: Black In America
Hello, my name is Bobby and I’m a Black man.
A Black man living in America.
The land of the free and the home of the brave.
However, it seems like being Black in America has never meant “free” but we’ve always been brave.
Brave enough to rise up and protest in the streets against militarized police only days after one of our own was murdered senselessly by a racist cop for the umpteenth time.
Brave enough to take baton hits to the chest and tear gas to the lungs while we continue to holler in unison “we can’t breathe.”
Brave enough to risk our lives to stand up and fight for justice in a country that has shown us time and time again how unjust it really is.
And yet we find ourselves here in 2020, 157 years since slavery was supposedly abolished and 50 some odd years since the civil rights movement still out here protesting, rioting, looting, begging, and pleading for America to see us not by our skin color, not as 21st-century slaves (aka 2nd class citizens in a country we built), but as equal human beings.
This is what we are fighting for.
The very things Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, and Huey P. Newton and countless others were fighting for.
The same thing protestors in the streets of Houston, Oakland, Atlanta, Minnesota, and the majority of the country are fighting for.
When you turn on your flat screen or see a clip of the news on Facebook what you are witnessing is decades upon decades of pent up frustration.
Us Black people are tired. So, America, forgive us for burning down your boutiques and ransacking your Targets but it seems that is the only way to get your attention.
Playing the role of being good little Black boys and Black girls who are obedient to the laws of the land somehow still ends with our lives being cut short, our cold blood splattered amongst the leaves on the sidewalk. Each life lost is a reminder of how little we’ve come from the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s when we were stomped out and hosed down by officers just “doing their job” while our peaceful marches were somehow disturbing the peace.
How many more lives will you take from us, America? How much will it cost us to be square?
You know, equal, 50/50. That’s all we ever wanted. Just to be treated equally. Not 3/5ths of a human as it states in your “amended but only followed when it’s convenient for the betterment of the elitist agenda” constitution.
From the beginning, the tone has been set that Black Lives Don’t Matter.
Every time one of us is exterminated we feel the initial pain but at the same time, it seems like it happens so regularly that many of us are numb to it.
But there’s something about the George Floyd assassination that just feels different. Maybe it’s the look of intense hatred in Officer/Killer Derek Chauvin’s eyes as he chokes the life out of our brother after he was severely beaten by Officer Chauvin’s fellow boys in blue. It felt eerily similar to the Rodney King beating at the hands of another group of racist cops in LA some 30 years ago.
Maybe its the fact that the futures of Dreasjon Reed of Indianapolis, Breonna Taylor of Louisville, and Ahmaud Arbery were also snatched away from them in the days leading up to George’s murder, the officers involved in the killings receiving a little to no real punishment for their crimes.
Maybe it’s the racial statistics on the Covid-19 virus showing Black people have been infected disproportionately and dying at a higher rate yet we are only 14% of the population in America. Even before the pandemic struck the United States in 2020, the life expectancy of a Black person was already 3-4 years shorter than that of their white counterparts.
Maybe it’s the redlining followed by the gentrifying of urban neighborhoods or the lack of jobs, education, and opportunities for Black people in America who struggle every day to pick themselves up by their bootstraps while at the same time their oppressor has their knee planted on their neck (hey, Devin Chauvin, we’re looking at you).
I don’t know. It seems like this cycle never ends. Every time I have a conversation with a member of my fellow Black community we talk about the daily happenings in the world and slide in “oh, by the way, did you hear those cops killed so and so?” or “did you see another Barbeque Betty called the police on that Black couple for sitting in the park?”
This is a small glimpse of what we deal with as Black people in America and Black people are fed the fuck up.
There is never peace of mind. We constantly have to stress and look over our shoulders. We live in a constant state of paranoia. When one incident happens to one of us, it happens to all of us and this shit is exhausting. It’s like a B-rated horror movie on repeat.
We know who the killer is. We run, we plead, we try to hide, we try to escape, but somehow we always end up dead and the killer remains at large. That killer’s name is Racism and it is always plotting to take another Black life.
If you want to know the real truth, we are being exterminated. One by one.
It is not safe for us in America. In the land of the free. We are not welcomed here. But yet this is our land, our ancestor’s blood, sweat, and tears built this land. We have as much right to the freedoms promised to us in this country as anyone else. We should have the ultimate pride in the fact that without us there would be no America as it stands today.
Racism is a plague and it is destroying the idea of what America was supposed to be. A free land for any and everyone who has ever had a dream. A nation that truly stands by the phrase life, liberty, and justice for all. Black folks just want what was promised to them by America’s forefathers. And if the powers that be are not willing to give it to us then we must fight for it. We cannot allow our enemies to throw our dreams away. No matter what is thrown our way we must continue to keep pushing for our voices to be heard and our plight to be seen worldwide.
This is war. A war against Racism, classism, and systematic oppression.
We have to continue to take action on all fronts. This nation has waged mental, physical, spiritual, and financial warfare on us for far too long and we are suffocating. The only way for us to gain some breathing room is to protest, march, vote, and invest in our communities by supporting our own businesses, building infrastructure, establishing educational centers and non-profit organizations, and to empower our people in a country that refuses to help empower us. We have to retrain our minds from the brainwashing that has been drilled into us for countless years that we are not good enough because of our melanin. That we’ll never be equal to the white Americans. Only then will we be able to achieve some resemblance of the American dream. Because, up until now, as one of the champions of the civil rights movement the great Malcolm X stated in 1964, “I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream–I see an American nightmare.”
And this is all it has been up until now for Black people. A nightmare.
How many more lives have to be lost until we wake up? How much longer will it take until America and the rest of the world realizes that black lives are not expendable?
As a country, we must continue the fight to love, respect, and protect Black lives. This is not a Black and white issue. Racism in America is a human rights issue and until we remove the disease of Racism from America’s DNA Black people will never receive what was promised to them life, liberty, and justice.
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Let’s take a look at the book Powernomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America by Dr. Claud Anderson who emphasizes the importance of education, politics, resources, and economics to rebuild and uplift the Black community.
St. Patrick’s Day 2020 marked the last time I stepped into my cubicle in Berkeley, California, shared a meal with a co-worker, or cracked jokes about our day as we walked to our cars after our shift was over. And, the honest truth is, I don’t miss it.