Friends and family, we are standing at the front steps of a revolution. Amid the largest civil rights movement in world history, America is in anarchy. Exasperated protests driven by decades of torture spread like wildfire across the country and while the overwhelming majority of protestors are peaceful and heartfelt, drawing from a place of legitimate pain, opportunistic parasites have obscured the march for justice and detracted from the cause.
Now, It is up to every one of us to illuminate the discrimination that still exists in this land of equal opportunity. They say, let those in glass houses cast the first stone. So, let’s catalyze change by first holding the mirror up for ourselves. How are we propagating inequality? Are we even aware of the culturally dogmatic thinking that has seeded itself within us?
Nelson Mandela spoke life into mankind when he said that “no one is born hating another person because of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate”, and this is precisely what has happened. Do you remember when we couldn’t leave our homes with hoodies for fear of prejudice, or when every head would turn at the sight of religious garb at an airport? Are those random searches really random?
Were you as a child ever told your skin was dirty or that your father was a terrorist? Does your family know your young heart was forced to experience this cruelty at the hands of strangers? Do they know the psychological impact it had and continues to have on you? Did you or your elders have your degrees and accolades stripped from you when you immigrated to the so-called land of opportunity with all the excitement for it’s welcoming doors? How many of those opportunities have been passed over you to your non-minority group counterparts? How many times was lighter skin, smoother hair made a standard for achievement when pigment and texture has no bearing on your value as a human being.
After 9/11, millions of Muslims were subjugated to racial profiling and violence; some resorting to changing their names and relinquishing religious identifiers only for fear of their lives. South Asians and Middle Easterners have rarely been regarded the same since. Attacks on Sikh temples have taken place globally — East of Kabul, West of Wisconsin. People of colour are pulled over on streets of affluent neighbourhoods in cars we are told we could not possibly afford because we are not meant to belong there by certain judgments.
We recollect these instances not to prompt trauma, but to say that having experienced life in this way, we absolutely cannot be complicit in a system of colour supremacy and institutionalized racism, against anyone, but today especially, against our Black brothers and sisters. We understand, it is generations of experiences with oppression and reinforced stigmas fed to us that have brought about these instinctual reactions today, but if we don’t halt the inertia of our behaviour now, it will never end.
How can we, having been degraded with words, allow ourselves to be nonchalant with their use against others. How can we feel ease, and even glory, using a certain 6 letter slur in jest and banter, having been so uncomfortable when the equivalent was shouted at us. Who are we to turn up our noses at the sight of God-given melanin as if there was any choice in the matter, when our own skin has been treated as a disadvantage, our countries struck with acid burn victims left devastated without any.
How can we make the colour of one’s skin a variable in choosing a spouse? When did inner character, mutual respect, and love become eclipsed by the shade of one’s shell, as if that shell has ever guaranteed true companionship and wedded bliss? Weren’t their hundreds of thousands of lives lost in years of hostility between and within our countries? So how can we turn a blind eye to police brutality, systemic oppression, savage murders, and unrightful incarceration of the black community as it happens every single day before us? Worst of all it happens in no small part because of the prejudices we inspire in our own homes.
This generation dresses and behaves in the complete appropriation of black culture rather than their own, but never shows the same pride and acceptance to the people who originated it. Our elders clench their belongings tighter crossing a black man in close quarters when dishonesty and self-serving behaviour runs rampant in our own homes like any other. We stereotype a whole race in saying “he’s black” as if black was a descriptor of every negative to be avoided. Why? Can we justify it? Do we have reason to? Or are we walking with no legs to stand on, feeding fear and preconceived notions into the minds of our impressionable youth and each other?
Every single right and freedom we reap the benefits of in America is a free gift to us from the African American Activists who fought for basic privileges in the Civil Rights Era, and yet discrimination towards them still stands. We have all encountered suffering in some way, shape, or form, but why is it that we as a race don’t feel the same fear in our country and our homes as they do. Even if we have opened our eyes to the injustice, the colourism in our communities continues to spread and it only ceases to exist if we no longer allow it.
After we have processed these changes ourselves, it is a heavy undertaking to have the courage to educate our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and community leaders but remember that we only embody what we have been taught to believe, and what we can learn to believe we can learn not to believe. Therefore, honour the responsibility to nurture their outlooks with grace and kindness, but do so nonetheless, and for however long it takes to create palpable change. We have to use our privilege to abolish the perceived hierarchy.
We must cast aside the borders between the races we have created and embrace only the human race. We must condemn ignorance and show solidarity in restructuring the scaffolds that hold the old mentality together so we can successfully bring forth a systemic change if not for the mass community experiencing immeasurable suffering we understand that we will never understand, but for the generations of innocent children to come so they may coexist in peace and safety that was not afforded to us.
If we do not stand true to what is fair and just, we are just as oppressive as the oppressors of our history, and we’ve learned nothing from the segregation and sacrifice our ancestors endured. If we do not hold wrongful parties accountable, we permit and in fact encourage eventual suffering. And if we ever hope to project change to a global scale, we must first show this bravery in our hearts and our homes. It’s time to stand with our fellow black brothers and sisters and make it clear that Black Lives Matter.