Updated: Jul 6
I want you all to take a look at the picture.
You may not be able to see it at first but... do you see it? You do? Good. That's the picture I took in a Detroit hotel back in March of 2017. My mom, sister, and I went with my grandparents, uncle, and cousins to a memorial up in Detroit, Michigan. It was a wonderful time regardless of the reason why we're there. That's just how my family is: always trying to look on the bright side of things. Just when we were about to check out, my mom noticed it while getting out of the shower. I can't recall what I was doing, but she called me into the bathroom and I went. That's when she showed me. I didn't let it ruin the rest of my trip so I took a picture for evidence to show the front desk. To this day I remember it on rare occasions.
This was my first encounter with racism. I always knew that it was still around, but I never experienced it myself before. I was shocked when I saw it. I didn't know what to say or how to feel in the moment... angry, annoyed, upset. As days went by and I allowed it to marinate, I was disappointed. I didn't grow up to hate a certain group of people. I didn't have all-black friends growing up, and I still don't. I befriended people of different ethnicities. I was taught to love. Unfortunately, not everyone was taught that. Last week reminded me of those moments and had me looking back on my experience as a black young woman in my 20s.
I've had my moments in college where I was hoping that I don't have a racist professor or one that will treat me differently. Because my Bachelor of Science degree was in Mathematics, I was the only black girl in most of my classes. There was one class that I was the only girl and black person at the same time, which made me feel pretty badass ;-) As an adult after college, I've had my share of prejudice where people treated me differently because of what I looked like. They saw how young I looked and my brown skin. However, I never let any of that bother me for too long. I allowed myself to feel in those moments and let it go. On the somewhat bright side, I've never had those encounters with the police.
Besides the Pandemic, I'm sure you are aware of what's going on in America right now. COVID-19 went on the back burner of the stove for now. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. When things like this happen I'm always going down this rabbit hole of thinking about all the black men in my life, both blood-related or not. I always get a sense of fear that they would be next. Then I think about how many black women have been killed by police and at that moment the black women in my life are not exempt. Then I think about my students in which the thoughts get worse. I teach a diverse group of students: Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Turkish, Russian, etc. Whether they believe it or not, I always see potential in them. I believe they all have the potential to be great citizens in America. Unfortunately, I can't speak for any other ethnicity, but the black kids in my classes are not going to be seen the same as other students in America. They're people, not thugs or a threat. America doesn't agree with me that all of my students are great and that breaks my heart to tears. It's frustrating that they don't see what I see!
I have two siblings. I'm the oldest. I've never had an encounter with the police. My sister has had a gun drawn on her by the police because she was in her car, which was right in front of her apartment. She had to prove to the police that she was a resident of her apartment. My brother experienced mistreatment by the police the most. He has been racially profiled one too many times. He's a black young man, 6'4" with locs. One time got to the point where he was arrested. He didn't get charged with anything but I remember the anger and hurt when he came home. Do y'all understand how it feels to be the older sibling, watching them go through this, and feel helpless all at the same time?
I'm tired. And so is black people in America.
I'm tired of thinking these thoughts every single time a black man or black woman gets killed by the police. I'm tired of hearing the stories. I'm tired of seeing a cop not getting charged for these murders. I'm tired of hearing the murderers are still out there. I'm tired of black people trying to get America aware of these issues and no one is listening. I'm tired of people telling the oppressed how to protest when there's no right way to protest. (And if you find a way to "properly protest", then it simply means it would look so cute to you and the message would not be heard. *begins to sip Oolong tea*)
I'm frustrated that the justice system in America hasn't done a full revamp yet. I'm frustrated that the police haven't stopped racially profiling black people. I'm frustrated with figuring out which cop is good or bad. I'm frustrated that people choose to be hateful. Most of all, I'm frustrated that people make the choice not to vote and complain about the outcome EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
I'm frustrated and I'm tired. Racism and discrimination were never solved. Nor was civil rights. All America has done was put a band-aid over a deep open wound that never healed.
Nevertheless, I crazy enough to try to remain hopeful. I have to for myself, my family, friends, my students, and my church. Of course, All lives do matter, but everyone in America is not in agreement with that, especially the government. So until then, I'll keep posting black lives matter... because we do. We do.
I wasn't sure of how this blog was going to go, but this is where I'm at right now. It took me a while to process all of this. I did write something about America a long time ago. (Click HERE if you're interested.)
Black Lives Matter
With love, Diondra.
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