Dear America, I’m Tired.
February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery was shot by white residents for being black and going on a jog. March 13th, medical worker Breonna Taylor was shot to death by cops for being black and being in her house. May 25th, 46 year old George Floyd was murdered by police officers who kneeled on his neck for over 8 minutes — over a $20 bill. May 29th, black transgender man Tony Mcdade was shot to death by police officers — unarmed.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of it.
I am tired of the system. The system that oppresses people of color through healthcare, education, housing, and criminal justice. The system that allows for the killing of a black man or woman by an authority figure meant to protect and serve with absolutely no repercussion unless an entire city is burnt down.
I am tired of racial disparities in American Criminal Justice. A system that perpetuates institutionalized slavery through mass incarceration of black men and women. A system that makes every black person in America a candidate to untimely death at the hands of the people meant to “protect and serve” them. A criminal justice system that sentences a black man away for life for possessing marijuana, yet lets my white male suburban peers off with a simple fine and maybe even some community service if it was “a lot”.
I am tired of racial disparities in healthcare. Inequalities in numbers that tell me, a black woman, that I am 3x as likely to die of maternal complications than a white woman because our pain isn’t taken seriously enough. Telling me, a black person, that black people are less likely to receive appropriate cardiac care, transplants, and treatments for AIDS, cancer, and stroke. Telling me, that white women are 13% more likely than black women to have better breast cancer treatment that leads to survival.
I am tired of the education system that works against people of color. A system that produces unequal opportunities for educational access, and success through the solicitation of systemic practices and policies that work against youth of color in order to diminish their chances of achieving academic success. Areas with higher non-white makeups are significantly underfunded compared to areas with a high white makeup. School districts that struggle to decently pay and keep good teachers, as children cycle through a school year without a consistent teacher figure to give them hope and support — ultimately giving students low quality teachers that don’t care about their students.
Education in america is not a system of equal opportunity and outcome, it is a system of segregation and inefficient funding that leads to students in underdeveloped areas wanting to leave the school system as soon as possible, almost completely destroying their future chances at middle class success in this country because they couldn’t finish high school.
I am tired of racial disparities the American housing System. A system that practices modern day redlining — which was “banned” 50 years ago— unlawfully denying an overwhelming amount of people of color loans, insurance, and housing purely because they live in an area or are “deemed to be a poor financial risk”. A system where white people are favored for housing, and people of color are denied housing simply because they are people of color.
I am tired of my ignorant suburban peers. Who invalidate my experience with white privilege because they don’t experience oppression themselves. Who tokenize me because I don’t speak ebonics, and I’ve “grown up” around them. Who — around me — speak down upon black people who live in “the hood” or who speak ebonics because I’m “not like them”, because I’m “different” — expecting me react with head nods, giggles, fist pumps, and toasts. I’m tired of my ignorant suburban peers who throw around the “n word” like there is no tomorrow. Who base their political opinions off of years of Fox news, Ben Shapiro, and “triggered SJW compilation” videos. Who support a president who is against everything that I stand for as a black woman. Who inherently work to exclude and filter people of color from their gatherings through perpetually exclusive student groups and organizations.
I am tired of white privilege and black fear. There is something draining about being afraid everytime I see a cop car behind me because I know it could be my last day, or being hit by a wave of anxiety when I pass campus safety at school because they might once again ask my brother and I for our student IDs, and whether or not we “go here”. I’m tired of my friends not understanding “why?” I can’t go out doing random things late at night like the rest of them, or “why?” I “can’t just” play the music “louder” in my car. I’m tired of wondering whether the steps my brother or father take out the door are the last steps I’ll see them take, the last breathes I’ll see them breathe. I’m tired of having to explain to my 11 year old sister that she can’t do all the same things her friends do because it might just put her in danger. I’m tired of always having to be aware of my blackness in every situation, setting, or place I’m in. I’m tired of walking past an older white man at my local grocery store and being received by uninterpretable stares and glances: wondering whether it’s a stare of wonder or pity, or simply a stare of hate and detest that he even has to breathe the same air as me because I’m black. I can personally say that the best feeling is walking past him and not being noticed at all, simply being another teen customer who’s been forced by her parents to go cross out the grocery list. Simply being another human at the store. Not one to be noticed or cautious around.
I am tired of silence. When my friends used to be silent, I appreciated it — I considered it loyalty. They kept my secrets and I kept theirs. They covered for me and I covered for them. But now, their silence is betrayal. I feel betrayed by the silence of my non-black friends on the issues of the black community while they continue to consume black culture, fashion, and music. They love to tan and fawn over wanting african american body features, yet are quiet as mice when a black man is killed for simply being a black man. Their silence brings me confusion, what does it tell me? Am I just a token to them? They claim I’m one of their “best friends”, yet can’t speak up about an issue that directly affects me. What does this mean about how they view the humanity and rights of the black community? As less than? As irrelevant?
The same questions can be asked for the silence of celebrities and actors I look up too who didn’t even bothered to use their platforms to spread awareness, continuing to post on social media as if nothing is going on — as if clear systemic racism is just something that goes in one ear and out the other, a thought forgotten just like their dog Lucy who they forgot to let out at 3pm for her midday potty.
I am tired of the statistics. The statistics that tell me that black people are 7x more likely to be wrongly convicted for murder than white people, 3.5 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of sexual assault, and 12x more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug crimes than their white counterparts accused or arrested for the same crimes. The statistics that tell me black men are 3x more likely to die by the police brutality, yet 3x less likely to be carrying a weapon. The statistics showing that police brutality is a leading cause of death for young black men in America.
I am tired of the systemic racism that has turned George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Mya Hall, Anthony Hill, Natasha Mckenna, Kevin Matthews, Marco Loud, Kevin Hicks, Philando Castile, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Dante Parker, Laquan Mcdonald, Frank Smart, Alexia Christian, Samuel Dubose, Michael Sabbie, Dominic Hutchinson, Bettie Jones, Peter Gaines, Terence Crutcher, Alonzo Smith, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Ezell Ford, John Crawford III, Jamar Clark, Randy Nelson, Sylville Smith, Wendell Celestine, Caline Roquemore, Mary Truxillo, and countless others into that — a statistic. Is my father next? My brother? My sister? My mom? Me?
I am tired of repeating myself. I am tired of the black community not being heard, not being listened too, not being seen.
I am tired.