I am a citizen of the United States. I pay taxes every year to the Internal Revenue Service. I reside in the United States. I pledge allegiance to the flag. Sadly though my life doesn’t carry the same value in this country that some of my caucasian peers do. Because I’m a black man, I get labelled differently even by those sworn to protect me. I’m automatically “a bad dude” or “scary” just because of the color of my skin. I’m not saying every police officer in America is conditioned to be racist, but I am saying there is a culture in this country that leads to an inordinate amount of black people losing their lives to police.
The culture I’m talking about is the same culture that gives caucasians the audacity to tell black people that racism ended with the civil rights movement. That culture allows people to turn a blind eye to obvious racism occurring around them. It allows caucasian people to sleep at night because they can create every excuse under the sun for why someone who looks like me can get killed in situations they would survive. Ignoring racism around you is a component of white privilege, even if you aren’t a part of the group of racist individuals that exist in this country you can ignore it.
The problem for African-Americans, blacks, or whatever you feel like labelling us is we can’t ignore it. We can’t ignore seeing innocent black people shot dead or beaten by police in the street on national television. It hurts. It pains every one of us deeply. It makes us angry. Which leads to another component of white privilege that allows a caucasian person to tell me I don’t have a plight even though they have never lived through any of my experiences. Well I’m here to say it: WHITE PEOPLE CANNOT TELL ME WHAT MY EXPERIENCES ARE. I know what I, my family, my ancestors, and my friends go through everyday that share my skin and my features.
The worst part of all of this is the way white Americans are conditioned to be afraid of black people. Again, I’m not saying every white person in America is racist or even prejudiced but I am saying that culture exists in a much larger number than you can imagine. That culture is the one that has me followed in stores, or that locks the door when I walk by. That culture also has police automatically label blacks as criminals, as wrongdoers, as people who will harm them. So they shoot us without asking questions, or while we comply with their demands. This is the culture that allows a black man waiting with his stalled vehicle to end up getting shot dead, even while complying with demands he was given by the officers.
It’s sad that we still struggle with this in 2016. It’s sad that all racism didn’t cease after the civil rights movement. It’s sad that my people still have to be angry enough to have to protest, or worse riot. It’s tragic that ending racism in America is a disruption of the status quo. Racism, either on purpose or inadvertently is considered normal in this country. The sad truth is like many times already in American history there will be some painful protest, unrest, and unhappiness until we can resolve more of our issues. With all this said, I only want the best for this entire nation and all the people who inhabit it, regardless of skin tones and facial features. It’s time for all of us to want that very same thing.