Looking at the recent violence from afar, it’s easy to say what should or should not happen. It’s easy to armchair quarterback when the dime in the dollar isn’t yours to lose. That’s the privilege we have when we don’t have to be out on the field trying to hold our ground. And that’s the problem with many of the opinions surfacing on social media today.
We live in a country that mistakenly believes the election of a black president cured our ills and erased our dirty secret we like to deny. Yet, we live in a country that was built upon systemic racism and sexism, so it’s still okay to shoot a person whose skin color doesn’t allow them to have the so called “freedom” fireworks celebrated four days ago. We still live in a country where it is okay to rape a woman—we can even say it’s her own fault for being too much or something or not enough of something else, especially if the melanin in her skin runs darker than her attacker’s. We live here in this country that decries freedom and democracy, yet men of color are gunned down like rabid dogs in the street for crimes their pale counterparts walk away from unscathed. We live in this country that has built a pressure cooker boiling so hot, it is bound to explode.
We have silenced the voices that have told us for decades they were not going to be oppressed anymore. Moreover, we have denied their truths, their stories, their life experiences so much by hiding our racism behind thin veils and smiles as we utter the word “thug,” hand out swift justice in the street, and deny them true freedom that they simply cannot abide in peace any longer. Yet, here we are living in a country that allows our white privilege to override that truth; we can deny because it is not us crying for our children in the streets; it is not us dying because of the color of our skin.
We live in a country where some can decry reverse racism without blinking an eye, believing this fantasy of white oppression really exists. And for as long as we continue to live this lie, there will be violence. You cannot squelch the voices forever. If words do not penetrate our minds to enact change, those who have been targeted for generations will take action. We live in a country where we should be acknowledging our sick past to try to make a better future instead of teaching lies. We live in a country that is being torn apart from the same problems that have plagued us for decades up decades, and we have the power to make this better. We choose not to. If we want to live in a country where we can raise our children without fear of gun violence, riots, and turmoil, then we need to live in a country that is truly “free” for each human being, and not just a few. We live in a country where not all lives matter, as has been proven in the past week—and this is why movements like #BlackLivesMatter simply must exist. We can certainly end the violence and make every life matter, but we must take positive action. If we want to walk what we talk as Nation, it’s time we get real and end the oppression.