The year 2020 seems like some sort of weird dream. I remember standing in a bar counting down the seconds until the ball dropped at midnight to signal what I thought would be an amazing year moving forward. Boy was I wrong! I should’ve spent those last seconds of 2019 stocking up on toilet paper or buying hand sanitizer or writing my political debates in preparation for endless conversations with racist friends on Facebook.
For years I’ve been the person to sit quietly behind my computer screen while debates proliferated on social media. With popcorn in hand I would read comments but would never post.
This time, it is different. My desire for this article is not to offend anyone or to begin yet another political debate, but to express my feelings with a hope that people can understand what it’s like being on the inside looking out.
Let’s start with the phrase that has been ringing around the country, “Black Lives Matter”. This phrase means just what it says. Black lives matter! It is not a competition. We aren’t saying that our lives matter more or that other lives matter less. It is a reminder because, of late, it seems people may have forgotten.
There is a particular type of fear or hopelessness that has been brewing inside of me. I find that I am overly cautious these days with most things in an effort not to draw attention to myself. Due to recent times, I’m afraid that if I get pulled over for speeding or if my music is too loud or if I dress a certain way, I will only be seen as…black. To some, that is all that matters, not my credentials, my degrees or my life, just my skin color.
Thankfully, I have had many friends reach out to me asking how I am doing as well as asking what they can do to help. Here are a few things that the black community would appreciate from our brothers and sisters of other races:
Understand. It means a lot when people understand what this movement is actually about. Like I mentioned previously, it’s not a competition. It’s about reminding everyone that we are here and we want to be treated fairly.
Acknowledge. Don’t ignore the struggle. I have plenty of people who tell me, “Well, I don’t really see you as black”. Statements like that completely negate my history and my struggle. I am black! We don’t want people to ignore it, but to appreciate it.
Communicate. Try your best not to make too many assumptions. Communicate with people to better understand why this means so much. The best form of research in this type of situation is communication. Open minded discussions can help us all during this time.
Support. It means a lot to have the support of so many people. I’ve received numerous messages and phone calls just asking if I was ok. That goes a long way. Check in on your friends and ask them what they need.
Remember that we all want the same thing, peace. Let’s work hard to make it a reality as soon as we can not only for ourselves, but for the future generations of this world. Things have to change but they can’t if we don’t work together.