Imagine being BLACK.
Walking into Walmart, on November 27, it’s a brisk day, but no need for more than a hoodie and sweatpants. My hood is up and I’m with four friends. Trey, Angel, and myself are all black, while Angel’s boyfriend, Kyle, is white. We are no more than 10 feet inside the store and I forget to take my hood off. Instantly I saw two men give me dirty side looks and a mother pull her kids closer with a concerned look on her face. I have never felt more scared or embarrassed in my life. I pulled my hood off quickly in anger. I felt shame.
RACISM. Whew, every time I think about it, I get a blizzard of emotions that I can’t control. Seeing, experiencing, or even thinking about racism, an ancestor of mine takes control of my mind and body, and I can feel their pain, sadness, despair, infuriation, and pure hatred for their aggressors running through my body. Something about the way we as a black community continue to rise and fight, I am calm for the time being, but I still want revenge. I want to see White men experience the same pain, I still want reparations, and so much more but I am constrained. To be honest I know most people will say violence is never an answer, but I have also been told that humans don’t understand unless you speak their language. If I know anything about White men,capitalism is their language. Only two things really get through their thick noggins and make them think twice about the world around them. It’s money and violence(or power). When white men are either spending or losing money, their ears perk up like dogs and the hair on the backs of their necks stands straight and narrow like they saw a ghost. The only other thing that makes their hearts beat that fast is destruction. They have devoted their entire lives to keeping the black man under their thumb, destroying their culture and family, starting with the head of the household–the black man. Take away the structure of their homes and deny them the opportunity to gain wealth worthy enough to pass down. The young boys resort to the streets or sports most of the time, which honestly both lead to a life of “slavery,” one a little more serious than the other. Send them to prisons with hefty sentences and labeling them felons. Being labeled a felon is just about the worst thing that can happen to a domestic citizen of the United States. Felons aren’t allowed to live in certain housing, they aren’t allowed to work some jobs, or see their children. Most importantly, felons are not allowed to vote.
How can a black man get back on his feet when he legally cannot earn a living? He is forced to the streets and becomes a habitual offender and is in and out of prison. Subsequently, that household is now man less. There is no protector or provider, mom works tireless hours to support the home and the kids are roaming looking for guidance from anywhere they can. The young boys resort to the streets or sports most of the time, which honestly both lead to a life of “slavery,” one a little more serious than the other. Those young boys never learn how to protect, provide, and love for women. The women never see how they should be loved, protected, or provided for. Those same women also find validation in materialistic and sexual endeavors, instead of in themselves and through genuine love.
Let’s rewind. It’s the 1960s and there are “Whites Only” signs everywhere in the Jim Crow South. And I mean everywhere–on the bathroom doors, stores, churches, banks, restaurants, hotels, even drinking fountains. Most things in this era would be off limits for a black citizen. There are signs on the sides of many streets describing this town as a “sundown” town and your black behind better not be seen roaming the area or you are as good as dead. The black man cannont ride at the front of the city bus. He is told to pay, get off, and board the bus through the rear door. The driver frequently would take off, leaving the black man standing there. Sometimes, the black man couldn’t even ride the bus. In 1964, things began to change. The president signed the civil rights act to end segregation and it’s rules. Blacks were finally fed up with the way they were being treated and demanded equality and respect. Dr. King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and many more activists led the fight that granted blacks their civil rights in America. From this point forward, everything was supposed to be equal no matter your skin color. The Jim Crow laws were disbanded but everything shifted from open racism to systematic racism. Problem solved, right?
Not so fast. I know most of you haven’t heard of The CIA Crack-Cocaine projects of the 80s. Imagine being thrown into communities 20-30 minutes away from resources, little to no jobs, and then the government drops crack-cocaine into your laps? Not only does addiction poison the community, but the sentencing for Crack-Cocaine possession is outrageous. Getting arrested with a kilogram of cocaine carries a minimum sentence of 8 years life, but a rock of Crack-Cocaine the size of a small earring stud has a minimum sentence of 25 years to life. Both of those previous infractions are felonies but it’s a lot harder to obtain a kilogram of cocaine than a small rock of crack-cocaine especially when the prices range from about $10 for a gram of crack-cocaine but around $80-$100 for a gram of cocaine. The 1990s weren’t much better, despite the emergence of rap music and artists. Black people were feeling empowered but the white man still tried to hold power over the black man. The Rodney King beating and the terror created during the peaceful protest that devolved into the L.A. riots. Most know these events as riots through the white man’s lens, but it’s a different story on this side.
Imagine trying to exercise your rights as a citizen of the United States and try to assemble, protest, and use your free speech and being met with hoses, dogs, tear gas, rubber bullets and much more from law enforcement.
Imagine walking down the street and seeing people pull their kids closer, switch their purses to the other sides of their bodies, give you suspicious looks, and start walking faster.
Imagine walking into your local grocery store, or mall, or convenience store and being followed the entire time.
Imagine being pulled over for a minor traffic infraction or calling the police for help or sleeping in your bed or sleeping in your car or simply just existing and not knowing if you’re going to lose your life. Imagine being BLACK.