Let's Stop Pretending

Have you ever dealt with the sting of being called a "Nigger bitch" so close to your face spit landed on your skin? Yes, I spelled the word out so you can read it and feel the discomfort. I don't have the privilege of softening the blows with (***) letter replacements in the moment. Have you ever felt the piercing glare of someone's eyes spewing unfiltered hate at you? A person you HAVE NEVER MET BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE. Have you heard a store owner say "We don't see your kind around here often" and watch the twisted, salivating smirk rise on his face as you check out at a gas station? Have you cried in front of your grandpa as he told you stories of how he literally ran for his life to a different state in the south while being chased by KKK members as a young person?

This whole week I've had to navigate life like it's normal, when really I feel so defeated. I've had such a visceral response to the media and all that I've seen and heard. Recounting fresh scenarios while reliving past traumas.

The older I get the burden becomes harder to bear. I'm hyper aware of the potential injustice looming. The kind that can happen to me or so many of the people I care about. I'm terrified for my boyfriend running in the mornings. I'm afraid of the day my brother might not go home to his baby girl. I'm anxious for my family, friends, and their loved ones. No one ever thinks it's going to be "them". No one goes to the BANK and thinks they're going to DIE. No one sits in their living room and thinks they'll get murdered in their OWN HOUSE. Those are real experiences and they are the source of looming fears I feel like a cloud around me every. single. day.

Don't tell me my experiences aren't valid. Don't make it seem like the other "nice people" in the world give a free hall pass for those who regurgitate hate toward people who look like me. Is that what we do now? Give hall passes and say "well there's a lot of other good people in the world, so we don't need to address this and squash the issue." Let's take that approach with murderers and see how far it gets us. Don’t become so disenchanted with reality or privilege that you forget. Let’s stop pretending racism isn’t an issue anymore just because we walk freely into the same public places. A piece of paper with a major printed on it or a fancy job title is not a force shield. Let’s stop pretending racism doesn’t still exist in schools, workplaces, and organizations. The manner in which I carry myself, the neighborhood I live in, the funds in my bank account. No matter how high I ascend on any social ladder.. no matter how “successful” I become... None of it protects me in those terrifying moments.

I will not act like my achievements and circumstances instantly grandfather me into acceptance. Because they don't. People of color, especially black people, battle an unbalanced oppression that is systematically rooted in every experience we've ever lived through in this country. We don’t have to be in chains, live on plantations or sold at auctions to be enslaved anymore. At the most basic principle, sometimes we simply have to be alive. We are still enslaved by the melanin in our skin, no matter how it looks from the outside. Whether it’s our dreams, aspirations, or our soul. We face the battle of protecting what we love and ourselves everyday.  RACISM SEES NO BOUNDARIES. I can't "cover up or hide" my skin.

I'd also like to point this out:

I have the utmost respect for individuals who serve on the force. I have uncles, cousins, mentors, and friends who wear uniforms and risk their lives to protect the public every day. So don't, for a second, try to question my character. Just because I acknowledge these are real issues, does not take that respect away. Try to remember that this week as people are expressing their feelings about what is happening in the world. People have a right to speak out about inequality. Just like we call out shady executives in the corporate world for greed, or corrupted politicians in office for impacting our human rights, we can also talk about the malpractice in the justice system too. Like kneeling on someone's neck for full minutes after they've been detained. Stop implying we’re generalizing and condemning an entire entity, when we’re merely illuminating flaws in the system. Flaws that have happened for decades, but have recently come to light more within the social media and cameraphone age.

I'm trying so hard to keep the joy in my spirit. I'm pushing myself to believe there is hope for the future. I'm just emotionally exhausted in complete transparency. Racism exists. Police brutality exists. Inequality exists. It’s alllll real in some form or another. Maybe not particularly in your world, but in someone else’s it’s real. Maybe even someone you care about.... like me if you've happened to read this far.

Don’t silence what you hear because it’s uncomfortable to talk about. Don’t pretend something is over-exaggerated and look the other way because it doesn’t apply to you. At least have the decency to acknowledge it.

Don't tell me that you don't see color. Because it doesn't take away from the fact that the world sees mine every single day.... It’s 2020 and racism still exists in the world. So, let’s stop pretending and start getting real so we can work on solutions.


A very tired black girl with a big heart.

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© 2020 by Shelby Wilburn