Over the summer of 2020, America once again faced the harsh reality of racism as we dealt with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. While there have sadly been many instances of Black people being murdered by “so-called” vigilantes and police officers, this time was different as the world was on pause due to the coronavirus spreading across the United States like a wildfire. We were stripped of our excuses for being too busy, taking the kids to various practices, attending networking events, or meeting friends for after-hour drinks. Our busy lives faced a moment of stillness, and in the silence, we heard the screams of George Floyd pleading for his life. The echo of him crying out for his deceased mother reverberated in our collective consciousness. In our stillness, many in America started to see what they did not want to see. It was eight minutes and forty-six seconds of America staring back at its own reflection. It was eight minutes and forty-six seconds that made America face itself. While some wanted to deny the truth, continuing to say, “This is not us,” it was glaringly apparent, this is America, and the seeds of racism were simply bearing fruit.
It was an ugly reality that many in this nation were ready to face. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the murders of Arbery, Taylor, and Floyd. At some point, there was a protest happening in each state and across the world. Daily people were screaming for justice, and while the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement started years ago with the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, this time it seemed the world was paying attention. Like a breached dam, resources of various kinds flooded into communities across the nation. Business windows were decorated in Black Lives Matter signs. Publications boldly demanded that people Say Her Name. Black people and our fight for justice was once again the shiny new thing…until the next thing.
Because when it comes to Black lives, there is always the next thing.
I inherently understood the attention for Black Lives would wane. There would be a new story. A new focus. A new issue. The racial uprisings would stop garnering ratings on CNN and MSNBC. Names that were once household would stop trending on social media. The stories of Black lives would stop selling magazines and newspapers. When our local paper, The Courier-Journal, recently made a post about Breonna Taylor, Leslie Marie Hoskins responded, “When are you guys gonna let this girl rest in peace. The BLM fade is over for now. Let it go.”
When did my life mattering become a fad?
When can I decide as a Black woman to just “let it go?”
Unfortunately, Leslie’s sentiments are not uncommon. Many White people have grown exhausted with the issues that consume the lives of Black people. It is no longer trendy. Black people protesting are no longer needed for Instagram pics. It is no longer “in fashion” to discuss racism. Many White people wonder, “How long must we continue to speak about these issues? When can we be done discussing racism? How long must we be made to feel uncomfortable? When is this going to be over?” For them, the fad has faded.
White people fail to understand that Black people do not get to treat our skin color like a fad. We are Black before the hashtags, the Instagram pics, the headlines, and the interviews. And we will be Black long after all of those things fade away. We do not have the luxury of waking up and deciding that we are done demanding that this nation treat us fairly. We do not get to sit at home and decide that we are done fighting for justice. I do not have the luxury of forgetting about Breonna Taylor because I understand that I am not exempt from what happened to Breonna Taylor. As a Black woman in America, I am wise enough to know that it was Breonna that day and could easily be me tomorrow.
The importance of my life is not a fad, even if you are tired of hearing about it or it is no longer trending on Twitter.
If you are tired of discussing racism, imagine how tired Black people are of dealing with racism? My very soul is weary. I am tired of worrying about driving while Black. I am tired of repeatedly saying the same thing, and it seems as if I am screaming, and no one is listening. I am tired of fighting for this nation to do better, and 55% of White women STILL voted for a racist. I am tired of seeing yet another Black person murdered on my timeline. I am tired of burying my friends too soon. I am TIRED of explaining RACISM 101! Every day I get up knowing today will be a day that I will have to fight for the very right to breathe.
But quitting isn’t an option. I do not have that luxury. The fight for justice is my reality. I don’t get to pause. I do not get to treat police brutality like a fad. Black lives matter isn’t just a cute slogan you slap on your non-Black owned company to sell shirts and masks. Black Lives Matter is about my very being.
However, White people like Leslie get to decide. White people like Leslie get to go back to their everyday lives after they have protested a few days. White people like Leslie get to go back to their comfort. White people like Leslie can ignore injustice because it doesn’t impact their day to day lives. White people like Leslie can call Black Lives Matter a fad.
Please don’t ask me how long Black people are going to keep screaming our lives matter. Don’t ask me when will this “fad” be over? Don’t ask Black people how long must we discuss racism? We will discuss racism until Black people have freedom. However if you must ask questions, I dare you to ask White people, “How long are White people going to continue to be racist because Black people are fucking tired.”
Categories: Thoughts, Musings and Reflections