If you are not actively doing something to help you are part of the problem. Your involvement can run the spectrum from sharing truth with the misinformed to marching to letter writing to activism. Spread truth. Refuse to be steamrolled by propaganda. This is OUR country. Wake up.
Justice for Freddie
Lately this skin I’m in is heavy.
I love it,
caramel candied perfection
a little lighter now from winter’s lingering presence.
I love the history
attached to my genealogy.
Love my family.
Love being me.
Lately this skin is a barrier.
Has me speaking to people who can’t understand my words
even though we speak the same tongue.
Lately my truth about this skin
for lifelong friendships.
They implore me to
Stop making them
And it hurts.
Hurts to know that
is only palatable
if encased in silence,
late at night.
Unwelcome in the daylight.
That if I stand in public
wear my tears like my tiara,
they look away.
Accuse me of playing card games
and amongst each other call me names.
Lately this skin I’m in is heavy.
A wet blanket
And I’m so tired.
It chokes me.
I can’t breathe.
They can’t see.
And the optimist in me
a flame I thought would burn eternally.
If love isn’t all the gas we need
to push past racism and misogyny
then what will propel us towards healing?
Someone tell me.
I’m dropping friends at an alarming rate
I want to say I’m okay
and I am
but I’m not.
Racism isn’t just wearing hoods anymore.
It’s more subtle
But it hurts just the same.
It’s people whom I considered family
“disgusted” with me
because I fear for my child
and I say so publicly.
They want me to take a seat.
Eat the scraps thrown to me
But THIS skin I’m in ain’t paper thin.
And although goodbyes are hurtful
I have work to do.
They do too.
I can’t force you.
But if you run from the discomfort of a conversation
If my truth “nauseates” you
you are part of the problem too.
If you can forget the ties that bound our friendship for years
the shared tears
the love held dear
because it’s too hard to just hear
then you only reinforce that my fear
is real and clear.
See, I am them.
I am not different.
That’s the problem.
This skin I’m in is beautiful.
I’ll gladly carry its weight
on its heaviest days.
I have no desire to be your tolkien
divorced from a “them”
that you can’t comprehend
my family and friends.
And the thing is
You knew me.
You loved me.
You saw me.
Until I shared with you
the reality of this skin I’m in.
And that is your shame and your sin.
I’m still reeling from the verdict.
I’m still trying to figure out how to raise a hope-filled, loving, sweet, smart little brown girl in the wake of the verdict. I’m still trying to figure out what I teach her about her country and her place in it. I’m grateful she’s so little. I’m grateful that I have some time to heal and think. I have found myself, more than once, thanking God that I don’t have a son.
Sit with that.
I am grateful that I don’t have a little black boy to raise.
This is my truth.
It makes me uncomfortable
but my discomfort makes it no less true.
I live an integrated life. I always have. My family and friends span the entire spectrum of skin tones. I don’t, “hate whitey” or think that all white people can’t be trusted. That’s silly. My life has not borne that out. But I’m hurting. I’m hurting so badly and all I want is for people to TRY and understand and then TRY and make it better.
Racism won’t be legislated away. Yes we need laws to strike down the systems set in place to hold all non-white people back. Yes we need level playing fields. But racism won’t be eradicated by laws. Racism can only be totally and finally conquered by love. It can only end when we all make REAL connections with each other. Racism ends with boots on the ground loving. It ends with us SEEING each other, and LISTENING to each other, and LOVING each other. It ends when the non-black people who love me can hear my pain, not as an indictment of them but as MY truth. It ends when they can hear my pain and see ME, as a person who is hurting. Because THAT is what makes people stand up the next time someone makes a joke that isn’t funny. That is what makes a person outraged when someone makes a false generalization about another race.
Those interactions…those intra-racial conversations are what will change things.
I’m hurting because I want to believe in my country. I was born here. My parents were born here. This is my land. This is my home. I am proud to be American. I know we aren’t perfect but I also know that opportunity abounds here. I know that possibility is nourished here. I know that freedom is here. Even if it’s just the freedom to talk about what IS wrong here. I love America.
But this country hurts me, it wounds me, deeply and then refuses to acknowledge my heartbreak. I keep believing in our justice system because I am American and I believe that we can get it right. We can’t get it right until we can admit it’s failures. The justice system failed the family of Trayvon Martin and all of us who hunger for justice and equality.
We held our collective breaths waiting for a verdict that would equal justice. We held our breaths because we knew that Trayvon could have been our father, son, brother or friend. We held our breaths because we know too many people who have been profiled. We held our breaths because we know too many Black men who have been murdered simply because their skin tone made them scary to someone else. We held our breaths and some of us….we are still holding it. We are still waiting for someone to recognize the humanity of our Black boys and men. We are still waiting for justice from a country that we love no matter how much it disappoints us.