I’m tired and I shouldn’t have to explain why
Here in America, we are told from a very young age that we all have the same freedoms and rights as everyone else. We are told that no matter what, we are all American and everyone is equal. But, as I’ve grown older, I have learned and come to understand that that’s not true.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed in February by two white men while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood. He was unarmed and they pursued him; no legal action was taken until the video of the incident went viral months later. On March 13, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in Louisville, Ky., when police mistakenly entered her apartment; she was shot eight times. George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minn. Three police officers kneeled on Floyd, pinning him to the ground, one with his knee on Floyd’s neck, and held him there until he stopped breathing. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. Breonna Taylor was murdered. George Floyd was murdered. All three were targeted because they are Black and that is the state of America.
I am tired of having to explain to people what it feels like to be Black in America and why they should care. Silence speaks louder than words, and the silence from people who claim to be allies in the struggle against racism is deafening. The silence from some of my non-Black friends is truly terrifying because it tells me all that I need to know. It tells me that until it affects them it doesn’t matter. It tells me that it might take something happening to me for them to care, and even then I might be just another hashtag.
This week, I have logged onto social media and seen people disobeying social distancing guidelines by throwing parties and going on vacations, but throughout all of this, they’ve said nothing. They’ve posted pictures with their friends, unperturbed by the state of the country they live in and the reality of the people around them. What is it going to take for them to care? How many more of us have to die before they decide that it’s time for them to use their privilege to say something that someone will listen to? How long will it take for them to decide they’ve personally had enough? Who does the next person have to be? Social media was full of people backing up the white people storming capitals because they didn’t want to wear masks, claiming that it infringed upon their personal freedoms and their right to live. What about my personal freedoms? What about my right to live?
Time and time again when something like this happens—when another Black person is murdered—Black people are once again forced to remind the country and the world that Black Lives Matter. This is always accompanied by the phrase All Lives Matter, but if they all actually mattered, then this wouldn’t be happening. We wouldn’t have to remind everyone of our existence, of our personhood and of our humanity. We live in a country that openly and honestly states that Black lives aren’t worth saving, that they aren’t worth protecting. So, if all life is human life and therefore all life matters, then explain that. Explain it to me. Look me in my face and tell me that my life is worth living—that my life is worth saving—and that my life is worth fighting for, because that’s what I’m doing. Every day, I wake up and in the back of my mind I know that I could be next. Unless you live knowing that your face could be plastered on the news because someone was privileged enough to make the decision that you didn’t matter, that you were less than human, then you don’t get to tell me that all life matters, because it clearly doesn’t. There is a hierarchy in America and Black people’s lives are at the bottom, something that we are reminded of every single time another Black life is taken at the hands of a broken system. This isn’t a case of police doing their jobs or feeling unsafe just because you think someone doesn’t belong in your neighborhood. It’s racism.
Racism is something that America has held hands with for centuries and it’s not letting go anytime soon. For 401 years, Black people have faced the full force of this cycle of never-ending brutality, and I’ve had enough. Black people in America have been told that they aren’t enough, that they are less than, and I’m tired.
I am tired of waking up every day in a country that I know doesn’t care about me. I am tired of having to defer to a system that I know won’t protect me when it protects my white counterparts left and right. I am tired of watching my Black brothers and sisters murdered in cold blood because of who they are. I am tired of knowing that no matter where I go, I will be looked at and treated differently because of the color of my skin. The weight of these deaths is unbearable and draining and I feel it every time. I’m tired of having to explain to people why I’m tired and I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of perpetrators not having the full arm of the law brought down against them and I’m tired of victims not getting the justice they deserve, and you should be too.