When I was growing up, I was pretty brown. I got asked a lot by other kids and sometimes adults what I was, and if my parents were interracial. I was so brown that my brother’s brother (who is mixed) and I would compare arms in the summer and it wouldn’t take long before I was darker than he was.
When I heard racist remarks towards friends of mine and others, I was never able to wrap my mind around it. I didn’t understand why skin color was cause for hatred. It was like a math problem that didn’t add up. I knew that I wasn’t black, but I also knew that I myself had dark skin– so why was this so different? I was too young to understand cultural differences and divides. All I knew were the people I knew, and they didn’t seem any better or worse in comparison to others.
And so that is how I moved through life. Not understanding hatred and racism, but knowing it was there. It made me angry. It made me feel helpless because how in the world can you change someone’s mind when the major factor behind the hate was skin? When it was something someone was born with, a race they could not help, but somehow deemed bad?
I was 22 when I got my first taste of animosity from a black man I worked with. Just for being me and being born into my own skin. I felt as though he thought I wasn’t good enough to have an opinion. Like mine didn’t count. It made me want to talk to him more. It made me want to break this invisible barrier that separated us. I didn’t understand that I first had to understand, why it was there in the first place.
I moved to various places around our country and have felt the undertone of racism weaken and strengthen depending on where I lived and who I was in love with. Of course I began to understand cultural divides and stereotypes, yet none of these things were able to convince me that a basic hate for an entire race was warranted.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I do not feel as though the world today is more racist. Instead, I feel like racism has been given a microphone. Social media has amplified hate and ignorance. It used to be the ignorant would make a comment, someone would say, “Dude you can’t say that” and the person would be like, “Oh shit, sorry.” Or you’d have to explain to them why what they said was not okay. Generally, these comments aren’t backed by hatred, but instead by ignorance. It doesn’t make it okay, but diffusing it on the spot wasn’t difficult.
Now we live in a world where anyone, anywhere, can say something horrific or simply just something dumb and not thought out– and it causes an uproar. The whole world is watching and focusing on this one comment that didn’t need to be dissected publicly.
There is a bigger picture here that many of us are missing. This amplification– it is the voices of few, drowning out the voices of many. It’s the media pouring gasoline onto the flame that has been lit for centuries. We are being shown hate and racism at it’s core. At it’s most horrific while we watch another human die on video for seemingly unjust cause. At it’s ugliest when we see another human who we know raped an unconscious woman, get a slap on the wrist while another of a different race would get the maximum. A light is being shined upon bias and hate, on people who have yet to realize that they are on the big stage whether they like it or not.
It’s about damn time.
It is awakening a fight inside many of us, but rather than unite us as a whole, we are quickly becoming divided. An “Us vs. Them” war is being waged upon the wrong people, in the wrong way. The American people should be the “Us” and those living in hatred, should be the “Them.”
Black people are screaming #BlackLivesMatter because they feel like their lives don’t matter. They are witnessing hatred, ignorance, violence and injustice against their race and they are fucking screaming to be heard. When a white person replies with “All Lives Matter” they are missing the point. In fact the point has probably sailed over their head never to return.
Because yes, all lives do matter, but when was the last time you woke up in the morning and felt like the system was against you?
We have a justice system because criminal activity is a part of our society and it always will be. As long as there are laws there will be people who break them– of every race. The right to a fair trial, is right there in our constitution alongside other civil rights we hold dear, like free speech and the right to bear arms. It’s there for a reason, because no human in this country has the right to be judge, jury and executioner. Not even cops.
Yet that is what is happening, and we are seeing it, amplified. The lack of regard and value of human life is staggering. And we are all angry and saddened and tired.
And we are letting it divide us. The more divided we become, the more helpless everyone feels, which makes us angrier, and the more we want to fight and give up at the same time.
We can change that. We have to stop looking at the other as though we are on different sides of the fence. Being a different race does not equal hate. We can share the same side of the fence even if we do not understand each other. We can share the same side of the fence and be angry about senseless violence and outright murder of people inside and outside of our own race. We can share the same side of the fence and vote for different people in this absurd, circus of an election. We can share the same side of the fence because our common enemy are those set out to divide us, those who live their lives in hatred and those that win when we are divided. They are counting on us to be divided.
We can win this.
United we stand, divided we fall.
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