Perspectives Of The Black Struggle In America
28 Stories. 28 Days.
28 Days is a project about perspectives of people whose lives intertwine with the black struggle either personally or through others close to them. Along with their perspective they entrust us with what they hope for moving forward.
We hope this helps drive conversation, breaks down barriers and incites change.
Struggle is universal. Everyone can connect to hardship in some way. Acknowledging the people struggle in different forms, ways and levels is what is important. I hope that eventually it’s not so controversial when an artist talks about their real struggle or references something very specific to their culture that the mainstream didn’t even realized they identified with(I also keep hot sauce in my backpack.) As a 27 year old Mexican American male I have learned more about my heritage, black culture, who I am and where I fit into this crazy world, but I will never forget how hip hop/ black culture nurtured me as a little one.
Now that I’m a father, I’m thinking of how I want my daughter to grow up without any sort of prejudice or racism. I do want to expose her to different cultures and people that do look differently than her so that she sees they’re really not different from her. I want her to have friends of all cultures and play and learn and be happy as though everyone is equal. I will do everything in my power to protect her from the negative mindset that anyone else is lesser than her for any reason, especially something as foolish as the color of one’s skin.
To even claim to be colorblind you have to come from a place of privilege. You have to be a stranger to racial injustice. I grew up a white face in a sea of white faces. Due to her skin color alone, my daughter is not going to have that experience and by raising her as colorblind parents we would be doing her a huge disservice. She is going to have negative racial experiences. She is going to experience injustice. Colorblindness rejects those experiences.
In recent years, it’s become more challenging to hold on to that affection for the church. Marrying a black man definitely gave me a heightened awareness of some weak spots in the church, but the real onslaught of my churchology has come with much of the body of Christ’s reaction to what's going on in the world. It started with Trayvon Martin’s murder, 5 years ago. Regardless of the fact that Trayvon was unarmed and that George Zimmerman (a civilian with no authority) was told not to pursue him, many were quick to back Zimmerman and blindly trust that Trayvon had it coming.
I believe we need to take the time to listen to people's stories and perspectives. We need to take the time to process and understand where people are coming from rather than jumping to our predisposed assumptions of how we see things. Denial that racism exists just because you didn't experience it or denial that you are not part of the problem will only make matters worse.
There’s this myth that, in order to live peacefully together, we’ll all have to agree on everything. When in fact, we only need to agree on one thing- we are all equal. Simple, right? One of my favorite quotes is by Shirley MacLaine, “Fear makes strangers of those who would be friends.”
When I consider how young this country is, and what other countries that liberals admire have gone through to be as progressive as they are today, another big fight is eminent if we really want to be a forward thinking, people driven country. People are going to have fight government. People are going to have to become incredibly uncomfortable. We have to fight for a government that that denounces hate. Our future depends on people recognizing that we need each other.
White guilt has absolutely no place in the church, and it is just as much anti-gospel as feeling superior for being white. If you are white, surrounded by mostly white people, have all white friends, and go to all white churches and schools, you do not need to feel guilty. No amount of guilt will motivate you to love the way Christ calls us to.
Black History Month needs to become more than just a time to recognize the contributions of those who have made waves. While it’s important to know the impact they’ve had, I feel like it needs to become even greater--a beacon to draw people in, a tool to educate and generate compassion and understanding.
The unique, closeup view that marrying a black man has given me has been equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking. I won't stop speaking up because I want my son to live in a different world than this. I don't want to worry if my husband gets pulled over or travels through the country. The world may not be what my young, naive self thought it was, but I'll no longer be keeping its secret.
“Why don’t we have a white history month?” That’s a question I hear almost every February. Often times the retort has been “every month is white history month”. To a degree that it is true, but we don’t tell the entire history. The answer to why we don’t celebrate white history is pretty darker. I don’t think people would want to have white history month if we told the entire story.
Is this the legacy the Church wants? To defend injustice for the sake of order? To forsake the plight of their black and brown brothers and sisters because it might cause division to admit a problem exists? Even now, I see Christians giving into fear mongering and believing the Christian thing to do is to protect yourself rather than take any sort of risk to protect those who are indisputably in danger of losing their lives. What would Jesus do?
I began to realize that the world in which I lived was very different from the world in which people of color lived. This realization changed everything for me. Listening and learning about the experiences and lives of black folk began to take priority over inserting my own (inexperienced) opinion (about the lives of black folk) into the public sphere.
We watched Philando Castile die on camera that Wednesday. And suddenly our world came crashing down. As we watched the video, I couldn't stop the tears. It felt like my heart was going to be ripped out of my chest. Neither of us slept that night. I distinctly remember eating a hot pocket at 3am with tears streaming down my face, unable to do anything but stare at Jared and my phone in disbelief.
So I want to share with you the story about how I began to wake up to the systematic (and sometimes personal) racism in the world, my country, my state, my community, my family, and myself. In college, I started to understand on an academic level, but it did not get personal for me until 2004.
I realized later in life (my mid-twenties) that just because I have not had certain struggles or because I have not first-hand felt the sting of racism that does not mean that it does not happen. I think if other Americans and people in general realized this then our world would be a more pleasant place.
At one time I believed I was a Christian before I was black and on some level that is true but, the reality of my experiences have taught me that I am black before I am anything else.
Dear Trayvon lately God has been showing me how bad I am at apologizing. How I don’t ask for forgiveness. So here is an apology to you for a sin now only God can forgive me of.
This has given me a great hope in the midst of an incredible turbulent time. This is the time for my fellow Millennials and me to show the world exactly what we are made of. I do believe that we are on the precipice of a great and terrifying moment in our nation’s history.
28 Days is a project about perspectives of people whose lives intertwine with the
black struggle either personally or through others close to them. Along with their
perspective they entrust us with what they hope for moving forward.