Growing up a Black girl in America, aside from the birds and the bees talk, my dad sat me and my older sister down and gave us “the nigger” talk. It is a conversation that must be had, but when to have the conversation is always difficult part. When I was growing up all I cared about were Barbie dolls and curling up in the corner with a good book. My best friend was white, I went to a diverse school and lived in a diverse area…I did not even understand the significance of being black until high school. My dad is a Black Radical Nationalist, which means he is all about Black Power and supremacy. He is the smartest man I know, he taught his daughters our real Black history…not the white wash shit they try to feed us in U.S. History, watering down the real horrors of America. My did grew up in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in the 60’s. In Black America during that time, on average a person of color earned half as much as their white counterparts.
“The nigger” talk lasted way longer than the sex talk. I was 8 and my sister was 9. We sat on our parents bed and my dad began to explain why it Is important for Black people to get an education. He told us that the color of my skin and the fact that we were girls, we have it three times as harder than anyone else. He told us no one was going to hand us anything, we had to work for everything we wanted. He told us to protect what we went after, because someone will always be waiting to take everything we have. He told us to be strong in times of adversity, but to also be smart. He told us as long as he lived he would never let anything happen to us, he would sacrifice his last breath so that we would never struggle. He told us to never listen to anyone who tries to tell us we can not do something, or we won’t ever amount to anything, his children are capable of anything we set our minds to. He told us that no matter what, we have to look out each other, because we are all we have and we can only trust each other. He told us to weary with others intentions towards us, not everyone we meet is going to wish us well. He told us that there are people in this world who are plotting against us, and that is simply because we have the potential to do great things.
The first African slaves arrived in America in the 1620’s. Slavery was abolished in 1865, lasting for 245 years. In 1870 the 15th amendment was passed, granting Blacks the right to vote. Women did not receive this right until 1920. 151 years has passed since the Emancipation Proclamation. 52 years since the Civil Rights Movement and in 2016 at least 136 Blacks have been killed by the police. Police that are sworn to protect and serve the people, are killing MY people.
- Kelly Thomas - died on July 10, 2011, was beaten to death by cops.
- Gil Collar - died on October 6, 2012, shot dead by a cop.
- Andy Lopez Cruz - died on October 22, 2013, 13 year old boy shot dead
- Eric Garner - died on July 17, 2014, killed by excessive police force.
- Michael Brown - died on August 9, 2014, unarmed teenager shot dead.
- Ezell Ford - died on August 11, 2014, shot dead by LAPD, unarmed.
- Tamir Rice - died on November 23, 2014, 12 year old boy shot dead.
- Sandra Bland - found dead in her jail cell on July 13, 2015.
- Alton Sterling - died on July 5, 2016, shot dead 6 times by police.
- Philando Castile - died on July 6, 2015, shot 4 times for a routine traffic stop.
In a country that prides itself on liberty and justice, that is far from the treatment we receive as African Americans. The 13th amendment granted us our freedom, the 14th amendment granted due process and equal protection of rights, the 15th amendment gave us the right to vote. July 11, 2016 and the question still arises, are we truly free? Are we able to exercise our rights as citizens of the United States, without being profiled, arrested, or shot at? Freedom is when I do not have to wake up to news another one of y brothers were shot dead by a white police officer for a routine traffic stop. Freedom is when I can exercise my first amendment right and go to church peacefully without worrying is a white man going to come in and shoot me dead simply because I am black. Freedom is when I can walk into a store and not be harassed because everyone seems to think all black people steal. I am not free when I, as an educated black women, still make 64% of the earnings of a white man. I am not free when I have to sit my little nieces down and explain to them why the world hates us.
We had the Civil Rights Movement, The NAACP, Brown v. The Board of Education, Freedom Rides, The Million Man March,Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks. Our Ancestors were murdered, raped, treated as property, stolen and beaten; our grandparents, our moms, dads, aunts and uncles, marched in protest for equality, held rallies to demand justice and where are we now? Look at how far we have to go. We built HBCU's so that we had the opportunity to get an education and people want to undermine its purpose in the community. We have rappers making music praising non-black women, while at the same time, degrading their black sisters. We wonder why Kim Kardashian can wear cornrows and appropriate our culture, while we get denied opportunities because we have nappy hair. We black men that deny the love of a black women, but forget it was a black woman who gave them life. How are we suppose to stand up change, when we do not even stand up for each other?
Recognize that as African Americans it is our duty to protect each other, stand up for each other and love one another. Violence only creates more havoc, but just talking about the problem does nothing. If all we did was complain and cry we would still be in chattel slavery. It takes action to make a difference. We can not change the system if we do not first change ourselves. Instead of buying our children the latest Jordans, we should buy them a book. Instead of aspiring to be Instagram models, rappers and strippers, we should aspire to become lawyers, mentors, politicians, police officers. Instead of teaching our children how to spend money, we should teach them the value of an education. The most powerful weapon in the world is knowledge, wisdom; nurture your mind and exercise it.
Even though the world may not understand it yet, BLACK LIVES MATTER.