Saturday, February 22, 2014

Martyrs of our children: Racism in the United States

“To be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage”
-James Baldwin

Above right to left first row Jordan Davis, Jonathan Ferrell
Second row left to right Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant
Third row left to right Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell 
All photos Bing, image search 

Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Ricardo Sans, Jonathan Ferrell, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and the list goes on and on and on. So much so until I’ve become sick reading Twitter feeds, watching the news, and checking Facebook. It feels like in the past decade America has regressed in any racial progress made and to be aware of such has started this slow blood boiling anger within my people.
I’m angry every time I have to explain why I’m angry. Angry every time some breaking news comes across the screen and I so happen to be out at a sports bar or something of that nature in mixed company and I’m looked at when my anger is evident on my face. Am I not supposed to be angry? Is this something that I’m supposed to come to accept in this day in age? Hell no, and the thought that anyone would think I should accept, or move on from this makes me even more enraged. If the names above don’t jar memory perhaps the names below will.
Alfred Wright murdered in 2013, Portland Oregon, January 2010, Aaron Campbell. Steven Washington, Autistic 27 year old shot and killed by L.A.P.D. officers, no weapons found on him. This occurred March 2010. James Craig Anderson, Jackson Mississippi, beaten and run over June 26, 2011. Anyone remember James Byrd Jr.? 1998, murdered and drug three miles tied up on the back of a pickup truck. His remains were scattered over 81 different places. “Ray” Golden found 32 years old in 2003 hanging in his grandmother’s back yard. Belle Glade, FL. Aiyana Jones, Detroit.  When will it end? How many martyrs must be made before we talk about racism today? Not in a past tense reflection but in a modern day observation.
What makes us as a people so threatening to others? Our melanin perhaps or the fact that our ancestors survived the cruel oppression known as slavery? Are we so threatening because we came together as a people for the Civil Rights Movement? Are we so threatening because we refused to be considered second-class citizens or because we breathe?  I remember being “Trained” so to speak as a child as to how to deal with a Nation, a world even of people who considered my melanin to be a threat. My mother would say when we were in the store “Don’t touch anything!” My aunts would tell  my sisters and I when we had our little allowance “Don’t go in your purse in the store” When sent to schools in my area in which were lily white with little diversity I was told “Hold your head up high Danielle”. As I got older I found my voice and began protesting such injustice. I’d heard tell of my aunts living through desegregation in the South. I’d heard when my mother and father dealt with the klan in Georgia. I recall the look on my aunt’s face as she told me of having someone spit in her face and call her a “nigger”. Then I recall my own life and experiences. Marches and protests because children are being killed and open season has been declared on those of the African Diaspora. I can’t even begin to mention Marissa Alexander and Michel Giles. Don’t get me started on Darrin Manning. And the countless other names and faces WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT!

I recall being followed in stores upon entering. Security guards feeling it necessary to lurk around any aisles I’d go on. I recall going on lunch break in Martin County when the Martin County police department pulled two coworkers and myself over and pulled her gun out of her holster while approaching the car. We were all told to put our hands up and I knew in my mind that any sudden movements would get me shot. I remember my heart racing. I remember my anger. Why was I pulled over? When I called the Department I was told that a group of teenagers was driving around in a white S.U.V. with paint ball guns. When I asked how the teenagers looked I was given a vague explanation and told that the officer handled the situation correctly. The funny and cruel irony part about it was that I was driving a blue Chrysler Pacifica, which in no way looks white. The funny part about it was that the windows were down. The cruelness of it was that nothing was done and I was expected to return to work cool, calm and collected. I remember standing outside the library during election time with my chosen candidate on my poster encouraging individuals to vote in my predominately white town. I remember my sisters and I being called niggers and the bird being given to us. And more recently I recall my sister telling me she was called a nigger in the parking lot of Walgreens because a guy was turning too wide in his vehicle and almost hit her.
I was not raised to tolerate racial injustice and quite honestly at this point I have no desire to. I figure during times when revolutions need to occur, when our children shall be made martyrs no more that we have two options. We can demand justice and equality or we can demand such by any means necessary. The road and the path that we take now is quite reliant upon the actions that are taken for injustice.

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