Some folks keep asking how I feel and, to be honest, there is not simply one feeling to describe it. The feelings vary depending on the day, hour, minute and even second. But, if I had to identify two, it would be anger and sadness. Anger and sadness that yet one more name has been added to the names of unarmed Black folks murdered at the hands of the state. Anger and sadness that it took the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor for many non-Black people to wake up and be comfortable with even admitting that Black lives matter.
Anger and sadness because it's been over 50 years since my grandmother, Lizzie Kelly, was beaten on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, and we’re still fighting the same fight today. She marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and countless others simply to demand the freedoms that America had promised yet failed to deliver.
Anger and sadness that — even after more than 400 years of violence, murder and discrimination — many non-Black people still don’t feel that Black lives matter. Anger and sadness that those in power refuse to even acknowledge, let alone attempt to rectify, the harm that has been inflicted on Black folks for centuries.
Now, I just want to know: How long? How long before those in power listen to those most impacted and work to rectify the harm and trauma we’ve dealt with for centuries? How long before white and non-Black people move beyond their performative activism and actually actively work to unlearn racism and dismantle white supremacy?
This fight against violence and systemic racism is nothing new, and yet for many it is. Imagine the amount of privilege one must have to categorize Colin Kaepernick’s attempt to protest police brutality and systemic racism “disrespectful to the flag and veterans,” as if non-Black people are the only ones who’ve risked and lost their lives serving their country.
Imagine the amount of privilege one must have to be outraged at the “riots, burning and looting” after repeated instances of violence and murder of Black lives, but to not be outraged at the riots, burning and looting that occurs after their favorite NFL team wins the Super Bowl. Imagine the privilege one must have to co-opt an entire natural hair movement and make it about their 2 and 3A hair, yet cry white tears when Black women call you out for wearing box braids (not boxer braids) and acting as if you started a new trend.
Imagine the amount of privilege one must have to refer to they styles of Black women and Latinas as “ratchet and ghetto,” yet act pressed when those same Black women and Latinas call you out for your Blaccent and acting as if wearing oversized gold hoops is a new fashion trend you discovered. Imagine fetishizing and loving Black men as long as they’re repeatedly giving your teams and franchises money and championships, yet when they speak out on issues of race you tell them to “Shut up and dribble.”
Imagine the amount of privilege one must have to believe that because they don’t live in the South and because they are “progressive” that they are automatically absolved of being racist. (Please see Amy Cooper for reference.) Imagine the amount of privilege one must have to go much of their lives not realizing white supremacy and anti-Blackness is still an issue until now.
All of this matters. From Kap to the argument of “peaceful versus non-peaceful protests, cultural appropriation to the weaponization of white womanhood, to the outright violence and murder of Black people. The microaggressions to the direct acts of violence all perpetuate a system and society that upholds white supremacy and criminalizes Blackness.
So, to borrow from Robyn Rihanna Fenty, pull up.
Pull up to change the beauty and hair industry that flat out denies the existence, let alone beauty, of Blackness.
Pull up to your brunches and family get togethers and call out your white and non-Black circle who say outright racist comments or urge you not to bring home someone darkskin.
Pull up for Nina Pop, Tony McDade and the countless other Black trans men and women who are repeatedly targeted simply for existing.
Pull up for The Movement for Black Lives and follow the lead of the Black activists who have been doing this work but who have often been overlooked in favor of white and non-Black voices.
Pull up and fight for Black people as hard as you fight to say the n-word without consequence.
The time is now.
Pull up for Black liberation.