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I’m tired. Exhausted really. It feels like ever since Trayvon Martin’s death there has been nothing but a series of racially charged incidents resulting in African Americans being killed or brutalized. I can see my sons in all the victims and I worry about what their future holds. The constant reminders that their skin color makes them a target for hate wears on my psyche daily and is slowly crushing my spirit.
By the time I heard the news of the church shooting in Charleston, I was all out of tears and had no desire to make sense of it all.
My frustration quickly boiled into rage and my heart hardened. I didn’t want to hear any rhetoric about how troubled this kid is, how he was a loner, mentally ill or somehow not responsible for his actions. I am not interested in having this monster humanized.
Sure enough, within hours of the shooting, the media was on a full on press to provide the alleged shooter with an excuse for his reprehensible actions. Asking questions like was he influenced by a hate group? What was his state of mind before the crime? Could his family have prevented this?
If this had been a person of color, no one would be asking these irrelevant questions. They would have been labeled a thug or terrorist and folks would be spewing out what vigilante justice they would enforce if given the chance. (FYI, I don’t support vigilante justice.)
I get that this hateful crime calls into question the delusional belief that we are somehow living in a post-racial America. But let’s be honest, this shooter isn’t some anomaly that we have to figure out. He’s your garden variety racist who cowardly attacked nine people when they were most vulnerable. Sadly, there are plenty more like him out there.
As long as society continues to pretend that racism and racial inequality is not a real problem, we will not be able to move beyond racial intolerance. So often when people report experiences of racial discrimination they are accused of using the race card.
Racism might not be expressed through lynching, burning crosses, and state sponsored segregation anymore, but it still exists. There are women still clutching their purses when in the vicinity of a Black male, countless African Americans are pulled over because they look menacing (aka Black), and there are people who still believe that mixing races is a sin.
So where do we go from here?
The current narrative about race is centered on the confederate flag. I appreciate the symbolism of removing this flag from the South Carolina State Capitol and elsewhere. However, at this point in history, we are way past symbolism. If removing the confederate flag is all we do, the symbolism will serve to be a mere Band-Aid on a festering wound created by years of oppression.
We need interventions that will effectively address the racial inequalities that people of color face on a regular basis. It’s time to dig in and find meaningful ways to put an end to problems such as racial profiling, police brutality, and institutional racism. We need to find solutions to racial disparities in poverty rates, economic resources, educational opportunities, and incarceration rates.
Not only is it important for our government to put in place policies and legislation to address racial inequality, it’s also time for individuals to self-reflect and see how they are contributing to the epidemic of racism.
What conversations are you having with your friends? Are you condoning racial slurs or laughing at racist jokes? Do you call people out for being racially insensitive or do you remain silent? What stereotypes do you have against people not like you? What messages do you send to your children about diversity and tolerance?
If we want to eradicate racism, we can’t keep waiting on government to lead the way. We need to start by doing our part to support tolerance in our homes and in our communities.
I want a better future for my children. One where society won’t need a reminder that #BlackLivesMatter because it will be a given. One where I don’t have to prepare my children for the first time someone calls them the ‘N’ word or when they are pulled over for walking/driving while Black.
Everyday I pray for my children to come of age in a world where they are indeed judged by their character and not the color of their skin. Like most parents, all I want is for my children to be happy and successful. I would hate for racism and intolerance to get in the way of them achieving either.