I often feel that I have to have something important to say if I must say anything. But often, I’m speechless. Not from the lack of words but all the words screaming within me. Feelings that are so hard to articulate they burn and seethe. And I’ve been seething for the last 8 years.
Ever since Trayvon Martin, a boy about my age at the time, was gunned down by a vigilante and the system cleared him despite the evidence as they assassinated Martin’s character in the media as justification. Of all the senseless black death since then. The ones circulated in the 24-hour news cycle, their deaths played on loop for the masses, and the countless others we don’t see but they happen all the same.
I’ll be honest. I experience a certain level of discomfort of talking about his especially in public spaces even as a black person. Especially as a black person in predominantly white spaces. Trauma runs through my bloodline and is the birthright I inherited. I was always keenly aware of my blackness but I grew up being taught that it was a thing of the past. That racism is no longer an issue and America is this glorious melting pot where all people and creeds are equally valued. Even with the overwhelming evidence to the contrary that haunted even my youngest days, I still believed that however subconsciously.
That was my privilege.
History is as long as it is recent. Slavery ended less than 200 years ago. The Civil Rights era was less than 60 years ago. Rodney King was less than 30 years ago and we’re living in an era where police brutality still continues to be tolerated by the powers that be because it’s in their interest. White supremacy wears many faces in our laws, our justice system, and the very essence of our society. It’s just as much a part of our DNA as the Constitution, the flag, and apple pie.
This time we are living isn’t unique. It’s a chapter in a much longer struggle where we try to force America to live up to the values it espouses for liberty and justice for all. Right now, not everyone can share in those ideals and it’s been that way for far too long.
Right now, we live in a world where state-sanctioned murder happens with impunity. Where black people are systemically and economically disadvantaged by decades of exclusion, suppression, and terrorism. We live in a world where arguments of perceived aggression and noncompliance is a death sentence for black people. Where criminal records and photos pulled from social media are used to retroactively justify it. Where white people are given the benefit of the doubt and people of color aren’t afforded the same privilege.
I’m not good at articulating anything when I’m heated but I’m no longer content in saying nothing.
I want justice. Justice for George Floyd. Justice for Breonna Taylor. Justice for Ahmaud Arbery. Justice for Tamir Rice. Justice for Freddie Gray. Justice for Eric Garner. Justice for Sandra Bland. Justice for Trayvon Martin. Justice for all the names we don’t know. I want justice for them all.