In recent weeks with the tragic and unfortunate murder of Heather Heyers, it seems the world has turned its eye to the United States of America, wagging its finger in shame. The blatant acts of racism that ascended upon Charlottesville, Virginia have been rebuked by actors, comedians, senators, congressmen, congresswomen, reporters, CEOs, restaurant owners, even some law enforcement, and everyday people in the world. The funeral of Heather Heyers was attended by hundreds and the events of that tragic day many have said impacted the very course of the presidency. Heather’s last Facebook quote, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention,” has been shared countless times on social media.
Indeed, either America was not paying attention or simply did not care because the people screaming for justice were Black. The recent events that have shaken this nation for many Black people and me are not new.
Let me be clear before I go any further; this is not an indictment on Heather, the life she led and the life she sacrificed for justice. Heather did Heather’s part. And Heather lived her life in a way according to her mother, that was always about standing up for others. I believe that Heather, with her last quote, would share my sentiments in this blog.
Recently in Kentucky, residents were asked to fill out a form about statues that “can be interpreted to be honoring bigotry, racism, and slavery.” I posted the link on my social media accounts and encouraged people to complete the form, but as I was filling it out, I thought, “Why must I complete a form to speak to my humanity? Why do I need to complete a form for people to review it to decide if a statue erected in honor of someone that stood for racism should be taken down? Why is my humanity regulated to an online form?”
In the wake of this recent uprising for justice, I cannot help but ask as a Black woman, mother, poet, and activist, were we, as Black people, not enough?
When we took to the streets, we were labeled as thugs and degenerates, but now people taking to the streets are labeled the resistance, were we not enough?
When we stood in the streets screaming for justice after the murder of Mike Brown, were we not enough?
When we took over the streets of Ferguson, Missouri fighting for justice, were we not enough?
When we watched in horror as Philando Castille bled out on Facebook Live, were we not enough?
When we screamed, “Wrong!” as we watched Eric Garner choked by an NYPD officer, were we not enough?
When we screamed for justice after Trayvon Martin was killed simply walking home after buying Skittles and tea, were we not enough?
When we yelled for justice after Sandra Bland was found dead on a jailhouse floor, were we not enough?
When we openly mourned after watching Rodney King beaten on a grainy video, were we not enough?
When we wept watching 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones (killed by the police) grandmother testify in open court, were we not enough?
When we watched in horror as a young Black girl was thrown across her class room by an officer, were we not enough?
When we stood in disbelief as no one was found guilty after the death of Rekia Boyd, were we not enough?
When we expressed outraged that countless police officers were found not guilty after senseless killings, were we not enough?
When we stood up against monuments erected to uphold the mentality of a slave nation, were we not enough?
When we fought to bring down monuments built in honor of those that supported the institution of slavery, and no one heard us, were we not enough?
When we took to Twitter with the #NoConfederate hashtag and David Benioff, Dan Weiss and HBO turned a blind eye to our concerns, yet now the world sees pretending slavery never ended is not wise, were we not enough?
When we watched the world spit in the face of Black America, were we not enough?
When we buried our Black sons and daughters too soon, were we not enough?
When we told you that you should be outraged, were we not enough?
It seems Black pain, suffering and injustice can only be understood by this world if it is viewed and encapsulated through the eyes of a White world.
I stand puzzled why so many White people are now surprised that America is not ice-cold lemonade and apple pie? Have Black people not been screaming this truth?
What did you think we meant when we told you Trump upheld a racist agenda? What do you think we meant when we told you Trump’s slogan, Make America Great Again, really meant, Make America White Again? What did you think we meant when we said electing Barack Obama into office did not mean we entered a post-racial America? What do you think we meant when we said our reproductive rights were being stripped away daily? What did you think we meant when we told you that your healthcare would be impacted? What did you think we meant when we were protesting police brutality? What did you think we meant when we were on Twitter for weeks practically begging David Benioff, Dan Weiss and HBO not to promote a show about slavery never ending? What did you think we meant when we told you voting for Trump was a vote for racism and hatred? What do you think we meant when we were yelling for righteousness?
What I believe is that you thought it would never affect you. I believe you thought those are just some Black people making noise that you didn’t want to hear. I believe you thought this hate, racism, and intolerance would never step on your front porch. But now you know, chickens always come home to roost. As Martin Luther King Jr, said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
There is no getting around us. We are not going anywhere. What we speak today and what my people have spoken about for years, is cold, hard, reality. The plane is now on fire.
One day I pray this world can take the truth of what Black people say straight with no a chaser. It is my hope that one day this world will listen when Black people speak. It is my hope that our cries against injustice won’t need to be autotuned, laced over a trap beat to catch the frequency of White America. It is my hope that the truth that Black people speak will be taken at face value. It is my hope that White people will not continue to profit by studying what Black people have already told White America was true. It is my hope that Black people’s cries for justice will not need to be White-splained. It is my hope that the struggles of being a Black woman in this world doesn’t need to be decorated in pink pussy cat hats before it is considered truth. It is my hope that a White person will not write an op-ed about racial inequities and it gets more views,publicity and credibility than a Black person that has said the very same thing for years. It is my hope that no blood, neither White or Black needs to be shed before White America realizes the error of its ways. It is my hope that one day, White America will hear, listen and act when Black America speaks, and it will not need the filter of a White person to react to Black truth.
(Feature Photo Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)