Growing up in the inner city of Philadelphia can be rough and challenging. The structure of the public school system is inadequate, the resources are few and the poverty is high. Include not having a male figure in your household to the mix and you have catastrophe on your hands.
Now, we have put the phones down and the fists up to halt these weapons that have formed against us- for we all know, they shall not prosper. #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackLivesMatter, as a movement, was resistance of the ideologies that Black & Brown stories were exclusive, that we were inherently deserving of this vicious treatment. The insecurities of White America played like a broken record, they told us their fears through inception.
However, I ask my fellow Black students on campus, how much more bigotry, hatred, and ignorance must be showcased by our white-counterparts before we realize we must invest our energies in ourselves. There should be no response of anger, emotion, or resentment- it is expected, an expectation that has been shown to us time and time again during the duration of our ancestral time in America.
Even as America attempts to exterminate you, they see you as entertainers, athletes, moguls, politicians and businessmen. You are desired in spaces which we are not and you are welcomed into circles from which we are tacitly and stealthily shunned. But as you rise into these spaces, do remember the shoulders of those who lifted you up. Create platforms for those voices to be recognized and heard. Make it known that you cherish your sisters because they are one piece of a whole.
To my Black community, I could explain that, despite what anyone says, on legal documents, my race is always categorized as Black and that I still face the same issues as other members of the community, including racism and colorism. However, through time, I’ve learned that none of these words or actions would ever make a difference to those people questioning me.
When we begin to doubt or get used to what the slave trade was and the devastating effects it has caused, when we forget the origins of an oppressive system that has yet to be dismantled, we become okay with it. We peg it as solely history, as something that is in the past and deny its current presence. A comparison is created because “it’s gotten much better” which is grounds for either neutrality, silence, or ignorance. When that happens, a man in the oval office who has no moral compass is viewed as okay. Charlottesville, Virginia 2017 is okay. Okay is dangerous.
In a world where we’re descending further into fascism and a resurgence of open Neo-Nazism, you really don’t know what’s going to happen. People are bold. Insurrections are happening across the country, and the senseless white violence against black bodies is becoming more severe. Owing a firearm says nothing about you more than you want it to, and at bare minimum, it can stand to be as simple as a legal, and highly effective, tool of self defense.
The other Continental African students and I would agree that it is much easier for us to stay within our own circles by joining organizations that represent our countries and making friends with the same cultural background rather than exploring other cultures. It is hard to move beyond what we are used to, especially when it doesn’t feel like we are welcome in the new environment we are exposed to.
Many Black power movements advocate for economic freedom and support of black-owned business. Indeed, a people’s independence can only be sustained if they controls their economy. I hope that this new series will be an aspiration to African Americans and will empower us to see the possibilities of a sovereign Black community.
I also remember hearing folks place a lot of value on others who were light skinned, as opposed to dark skinned. This led me to feel uneasy in my own skin. I did not want to feel like others viewed me as superior, just because my pigment is a lighter shade of brown, or because I have “good hair”. It is foolish that there is so much divisiveness in our own communities, based on the pigment of our skin.