George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice… All names etched into my memory as they are lives that were taken for no reason at all. Every case was different but the end result was the same. A death was caused by someone else wielding excessive power that needs to be checked.
My Generation, that tail end of the millennials were quite young when the Rodney King beating and following riots took place, but it was our first encounter with police brutality in many cases.
I was personally 2 1/2 years old when his assault happened, but I heard about all through my childhood. A fear of the police was instilled early in me, but my white friends didn’t have that. At that time they couldn’t understand why I never wanted to be the cop or play cops and robbers on the playground.
Unlike other teenagers/kids, we had our innocence stripped then. We knew death was real at that point. We were not untouchable.
Fast forward to the age of 13 and in 2001 my generation witnessed the second plane crash into the World Trade Center, killing so many innocent people. We saw scared people jump to their deaths out of the burning building knowing they were going to die when they hit the ground. Unlike other teenagers/kids, we had our innocence stripped then. We knew death was real at that point. We were not untouchable. I bring all this up to say that Violence and death have been a part of my generation’s lives and we have reached out breaking point long before this string of black deaths that hit our screens every couple of months.
Breonna Taylor Was It
I’ve worked my entire life to be part of the population that actually makes it home to their family. I didn’t want to give any extra reason to be judged and executed while black. I went numb to all the killings, and just seethed in rage quietly hoping my voting could eventually help the situations. But after having a son last year my heart began to beat anew. This opened me up to fears I never knew I could have. Now I have to live damn near perfect to make sure I can always be around to provide for my child. I have to set a great example and ensure my son is better than me and can live his whole life out.
Then Breonna Taylor’s murder happened in the middle of a pandemic. An EMT worker who busts her ass helping people during the COVID-19 crisis was murdered in her own home after a long day’s work. Cops led a raid on THE WRONG HOUSE LOOKING FOR A PERSON THAT WAS ALREADY IN CUSTODY. This messed me up mentally. That could have been my home with my wife and baby son in it. One of us could have been the one killed.
In this moment I yet again had to grieve for my people.
I yet again had to be enraged for my people.
I yet again have to fear for my family.
For the first time in my 31 years, I realized I’m so exhausted being black in America. Every moment in and outside of your home is stressful because you are always on edge. It’s exhausting because you can only vent so much and pray for change.
When you go out into the world it seems like you don’t have true allies because you’re either surrounded by people who don’t understand what you are going through or people who are part of the problem.
George Floyd’s Murder and Black Lives Matter: The World is Protesting
The world watched George Floyd take his final breaths on a video that deeply wounded Black America. Black America then had to yet again watch as people tried to explain how George was wrong somehow and the cop was justified. Watched them try to find a way to justify murder. Now Black America had to explain to their kids about death, and how the cops aren’t always your friends. American school systems teach your kids they are supposed to trust the police, but black parents have to undo that every time they come home to prepare them for the world. As we speak I have come up with ways to prepare my son for the world he will come into.
The murder of this man caused a unity and a division at the same time. People all over this Earth have banded together demanding equality for the black people of this country, but it has also drawn a line in the sand.
The true face of the American people is being seen now. The people who strongly believe that black people deserve this kind of treatment from the police are coming out. The ones who believe the black people should go back to their country of origin. The people who used to use racial slurs in the privacy of their homes are constantly posting them on social media now in protest of our protests. There are white supremacist groups starting riots and causing disturbances and blaming it on peaceful protestors. There are cops that are just attacking people who are not posing a threat to them just trying to be heard peacefully. Every day new reports of obscene violence and deaths on both sides of this issue are coming in and frankly, I’m exhausted.
As a black man in America, I’m so exhausted. Let me explain my exhaustion. I’ve been judged on my melanin and outward appearance since I was a child. I don’t smile and I’m imposing so, therefore, I’m automatically an angry black man. So I’ve been unnecessarily stopped by the cops before. when pulled for simple traffic violations my car has been surrounded by multiple officers with their hands on their guns. Women clutch their purses when I go near them, lock doors, and pull their children closer to them. Being black is like walking around with a list of charges tattooed to your face to be judged by your supposed fellow human being. It’s exhausting to constantly live in a way to prove all these charges are false as well as be in fear of what should be a simple interaction with the police being my last moments on Earth. Now I have a son to raise and teach him the same things, it’s exhausting to have this constant anxiety about my life holding the same value as my white counterparts.
My life matters.
My race matters.
Black Lives Matter.
My son’s future matters and I shouldn’t have to fear him not being able to grow up equally because I blessed him with his beautiful melanin infused skin.
It’s exhausting to go out into the world affected by everything that’s going on and have to act like nothing is the matter when you go to your place of employment. Luckily I have a supervisor who feels for and fears for her employees well being while dealing with all of this, but to operate in this world we have to act like its cool just to get our jobs done. We have to make a living. It’s exhausting to scream internally all day long around people who are at peace internally. It makes you feel like you’re a burden because you are burdened with this strong desire for change and equality. I’m tired of being treated differently because of my color, and judging by the protests of the world, so are a lot of people.
Black Lives Matter.