By Pamela B
"The moment you were born - You had three strikes against you.
You are young, you are a girl, and you are black."
Growing up, my dad use to repeat this phrase to me over and over again until it was burned into my mind.
He meant it to be a push of motivation to get me to strive harder in life so I could push past limitations and come out on top – but in reality, this quote was so much more than that.
It was a reminder – to stay safe and stay careful. He meant that, since people see me differently, see us differently, we must act accordingly.
I grew up well aware of my differences since I was raised in a city where I was 1 in 1000 and I consider myself very lucky to have been brought up in such a way that allowed me to grow my backbone against comments, dirty looks, and ignorance.
Sure, I’ve gone through rough times but the amount of love and compassion, and warmth that I have experienced throughout my short lifetime is astronomical.
I’ve had people of all races love me, cry with me, hold my hand through dark times and stick up for me. I have seen compassion and strength which is why I hold so much hope in my heart for the future.
People are born great – individuals are taught hatred.
However, that being said, recently, I’ve been struggling greatly.
These past few weeks have been incredibly hard, more than usual.
2020 has already been an uphill climb that we’ve all had to experience together. Countless mental breakdowns, anxiety attacks, insomnia – it has not been easy. But even after all of that, the uncomfortableness and the change of routines… this – right now – has got to be the worst pain I’ve experienced.
If you’re not already caught up, let me inform you quickly of the events of this past couple weeks.
The news was flooded by a video taken in Minneapolis. A police officer (and three others) stopped a man, George Floyd, who allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill at a restaurant.
The 46 year old who was handcuffed, allegedly “resisted” the arrest which resulted in him pinned down on the ground. Unfortunately, Derek Chauvin took it upon himself to rest his knee on Floyds neck even after the pleas and cries of “I can’t breathe” or “Please, just let me stand up” or “I’m about to die”. Frankly, I cannot watch the video after this point in time but Flloyd did succumb to the suffocation and passed away. Some may call that “health conditions” just like they said for Eric Garner (who also died from suffocation by Police officer) but most, who have eyes, can see it like it is – murder.
I am heartbroken at the site of the video, but at the same time – without that video, that cop probably would have got away with this. Without all the people who banded together and fought for justice, that cop would have been smiling at yet another kill under his belt.
Watching that video brings me back to my whole upbringing of watching other innocent men and women that look just like me dying at the hands of rotten cops.
That video of George brought me back to when I called my sweet father after seeing the video of Eric Garner. I was bawling my eyes out urging him to stay inside out of the public. I was scared and frightened since all I could think of was how my dad was tall, dark, and with a quick glance – others would view him as ‘scary’ or ‘a threat’ meanwhile I just saw him as my old man, who bought me candy when I was sad, or listened to me cry after not making the volleyball team. Of course, he laughed me off saying “no one is going to hurt me, babe”. But yet again, another black man falls at the hands of hatred and yet again, I am not so sure.
As I scroll through my newsfeed on my social media platforms I am astonished at all the posts and statuses about what has been going on. The fact that so many people are as shook up and as heartbroken as I am has really spoken volumes to me about the world, and especially about the people I hold close to me. Different races, ages, genders, of ALL kinds standing together to say “This isn’t right and needs to stop” moves me to such tears. This is what we’ve been asking for.
Although there are so many good, amazing, loving people in this world – it’s the individuals that still see no wrong in what’s happening that worries me. I get that you cannot change the world, and I understand that as long as there’s difference – there will be hate. But, my hope is that hatred will one day be the minority. My hope is that one day, someone will say something vile, and ignorant and everyone else in the room will shut them up, throw them out and never speak to them again. Or even better, educate them.
Here are some comments that I have run into since following the protest and I just want to lay some out and really talk them through. I hope you can follow along and pass on the message:
"All lives matter"
“All lives matter” is just another way to diminish the “black lives matter” movement. Black lives matter is in no way saying that no other race matters. Of course other races matter. We’re just saying our lives do TOO. Unfortunately there are individuals who believe that just by saying “NO – ALL lives matter” means that it includes black lives but it doesn’t. Not right now anyways. Until black lives are being treated to the same value as everyone else, “all lives” don’t matter. This statement is untrue and it’s used to silence the importance and severity of what’s going on. If you believe that all lives matter, how about you instead say “Black lives matter – TOO”.
"I was with you until you started burning down and looting your own city. Now I don't give a f*ck"
Listen to me, looting and protesting are two different things. The fact that people keep bunching up the two saddens my heart because it gives society and the media exactly what they want. Bad news sells, haven’t you ever heard of that? How often does the news cater to dividing and separating people for their own benefit? So often.
You have to understand that there are people out there (lots of different types of people) standing there, crying, hurt, and fighting for their voices to be heard that are NOT looting or damaging the city. To say “I dont care anymore” is BS because the fact is, you never have. If you did care, you would’ve given the media no piece of mind and focused your attention on the real matter at hand. Another soul was innocently taken, AGAIN.
"If they didn't resist, than they'd still be alive"
Show me how being on the ground, with your hands behind your back, and pleading for your life is resisting? Show me how your hands behind your back, standing still and not moving is resisting? Tell me how sleeping in your bed is resisting? Tell me how jogging down the street is resisting? I can go on and on with examples on real and true incidents where people actually died. The problem wasn’t resisting, the problem was one person being black and an individual devaluing their life. It’s the lack of consequences they knew that they’d receive just because of their title and superiority complex.
Also, let’s say they did resist. Let’s say they unfortunately decided to speak up for themselves and say “no, why am I being under arrest?” Or “this isn’t fair – why is this happening”. Does that mean they should die? Show me how many other races have done risky things like running away from the cops, or waving a weapon at a cop and still survived.
Why is it that a black person can’t stick up for their rights without losing their life?
"If it were a white person, they'd do the same thing"
You may be right. At the end of the day, it speaks on the actions of the dirty cop. A dirty cop definitely will feel no compassion when killing anybody.
But I’ll say it again, for some reason – time and time again, cops are well known to be threatened by someone with dark skin vs someone that isn’t. Cops are more likely to pull the trigger on a black individual since they “thought they might have a gun” or “they looked mad”. Due to stereotypes and society’s portrayal of a black man or woman – they think they already know this person and their life is of no value. To these cops, we are faceless and that’s what needs to change.
You could be right, a white man could be killed too and definitely probably has, But what we’re focused on right now is the unnecessary killings of black men and women.
Again, why do arrests have to be a life sentence?
"Not all cops are bad"
No one is saying ALL cops. My heart really and truly breaks knowing there’s sweet, amazing cops out there that just want to do their jobs and protect innocent people. There are plenty of cops that are as angry and as pissed off as we are because all this time they have fought to make a name for themselves and do GOOD and then one cop out of a bunch comes along and tears it all down.
Cops are good. Cops have hearts. But unfortunately, there are Bad Cops. Police and Law Enforcement need to do their part in making sure that these people are not sneaking in and destroying their hard work.
There are lots and lots of cops who have spoken out about the force taken on George Floyd that say they are disgusted and it was the wrong force. There are cops that are upset and want better – so follow suit.
"They just want to have a reason to fight about something - they just want to hear their own voices"
PLEASE take this reasoning away. We do not want this reasoning. We are more than happy to have this off our hands. We are tired of being hunted. We are tired of being killed. We are tired of protesting again and again. We don’t want this as much as you don’t want to see it. Help us stop this. Help us, please.
"There is no such thing as white privilege"
Except that there is – and that statement alone is proving it. Not seeing white privilege is having white privilege.
I’ll break it down for you. When you are driving down the street and you see cop lights in your rearview mirror. Your first thought might be “damnit, I don’t want a ticket” or “damn, this cop might be a dick” meanwhile a black person’s first thought could be “I don’t want to lose my life today” or “damn, what if this cop is racist and kills me”
Some might read that and say I’m being sensitive. But that right there, thinking that way, is privilege. Because you never had to think like that.
You never have to step out of your house and have a fear that someone sees you and is immediately scared, calls the cops on you and you die. You never have to think about the colour of your skin and that is white privilege.
Or you don’t think that there is a problem with the way things are being run right now – that is privilege.
Don’t assume that having privilege is a bad thing – all that we ask for is that you acknowledge it and understand that you can use that voice that you have to your benefit and speak up for what’s right.
"What can we do?"
I see you, I see you wanting to help and wanting to make a change. I get that this time is confusing and overwhelming because it feels like you can’t do anything. But trust me when I say, that you really really can. Helping comes in so many different forms.
Here are some ways you can make a change:
Educate yourself so you can educate others
So many times people are only saying what they are saying because they do not know. Maybe they’ve grown up in a small town and never met a black person and are only going off of movies and tv shows that negatively depict how a black person is.
Branch out and talk to people. Familiarize yourself with the fact that black people are people and just like everyone, we come in many shapes, colours, sizes, and we all have hearts and have dealt with heartbreaks and loss and hardship. The media like to showcase black people a certain way so make sure you educate yourself so you can in turn educate others.
Stop assumptions with education.
If you don’t know or understand something – ask. I would 100% rather questions than assumptions being made about me. Let people tell you who they are versus you assume that’s who they are. Talk. Get to know.
Put yourself in our shoes for a moment - be compassionate
Think to yourself – what if that was your brother, sister, mother, father, grandparent, child – what if we were your family member or someone else that you loved DEARLY. And you saw cops mistreating them to the point of their deaths. Would you turn a blind eye? Would you stay quiet and let it keep continuing? How would you feel? Hurt? Happy? Really recognize yourself. How compassionate are you? Challenge yourself and ask the tough questions.
Learn to see the best in people - don't jump to assumptions and judge right away
All we want is just to be loved – and heard – and then left alone. Maybe all of this could just be over if cops were held accountable for all inhumane deaths.
Serve and protect as they say. Come up with better ways to restrain someone when being detained that doesn’t endanger their lives. Until they are proven guilty, they should not lose their life.
Don't feed into the medias' bs. Be objective.
The news that you watch is all being strung along by biased views on what people want you to see. They want you to only see looting, they want you only to see burning down buildings and broken windows and all of that sadness. They want that because it fuels people to look away from the real problem – the real enemy. Call for the real news, seek out videos of people who are hugging cops and all the different races who are holding hands and walking together. Seek those videos out. Educate yourself with the truth and not the formulated vision of recklessness that they are trying to make you believe.
At the end of the day, I needed to get this out because I really and truly love everyone and I just want to feel like they love me too. I look at people and I see them for them, their faces and their hearts and I just want that in return.
I want people to have compassion and feel for others just because they are humans too. Not because they feel like they have to feel for them or because someone is telling them to care for them. I just want them to feel like it’s okay to love first and judge later. That’s okay and people do that and live very happy lives.
I want everyone to see each other’s differences and love each other more for it.
I want my future kids one day to feel okay and loved in their skin and not feel frightened.
I wrote this in an attempt to not only get this off of my chest but to also, bring awareness to the fact that we all want one thing.
Peace. Equality. Love
"Remember who the true enemy is - Racism and Hatred".
It has never been about black vs white.
It’s Love Vs Hate
Now, are you in?
If you feel like you really resonated with this post, or you feel like others can benefit greatly by reading this – please share. I really want to spread the knowledge, spread the love.
Spread the possibility of change to others that wouldn’t receive something like this otherwise. Thank you so so much for your time.