Growing up in the suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee, my family was the only black family in the neighborhood. I was oftentimes the only black person in my classes at school and also the only black person in my group of friends. I never found myself left out nor did I think it was different that I was constantly surrounded by white people. It was my normal. I never experienced racism or any type of discrimination growing up. I figured that sort of thing…“racism” was a thing of the past. People had changed; people were different now. It wasn’t until I was eighteen and into my twenties when I truly realized that my life in the suburbs was not the norm. Racism and discrimination were very real and alive.
I was thrust into a world of shock in my mid-twenties. I realized that I was “lucky” and definitely in the minority of black people that had not yet experienced racism. I quickly learned just because I had not experienced the big “R” word did not mean it still wasn’t a huge issue. My first big revelation that racism was still an issue in the U.S. was the Trayvon Martin shooting. The things non minorities were saying, and the way they justified this shooting and police brutality cases that were to come was earth shattering. If strangers thought this about an innocent young black man, what would they have to say about me? I wondered if this could happen to me.
Fast forward a few years, President Obama’s second term was coming to an end. Donald J. Trump had just been elected president. I heard and saw all kinds of racist and sick things being said and done, all in the name of the president. I thought how could church burnings, the “n” word spray painted on buildings, white men verbally attacking black people at gas stations or other various places, and other acts of racism take place in America, today. I soon realized; I was no longer living in America as I knew it. It was now “Trump’s America.” The first time I heard that phrase it gave me chills and still does. When Trump was elected president, I wondered where I fit in his divisive plans for the country.
I was never the type of person to go on social media and speak my mind on politics or any of the other touchy topics. This time things were different. As an African American, a woman, and a minority, I felt that it was time to speak up on the atrocities that were taking place. The civil rights of many were at stake. I participated in my first march on January 21, 2017, the Memphis Women’s March. Participating in this march meant so much to me. It was my chance to stand up against what was wrong. I was able to share my voice and be a part of something bigger than me. I along with millions of other women across the country stood united. We showed that our voice would be heard and that we would not permit tampering with our rights or any other human’s rights.
As a black woman, I have not had many struggles with race. I have however heard and sympathized with other people’s struggle in America. 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.
For the future of our country, I pray for peace, tolerance, and a lot more love. Our country needs it. I pray for peace between different minded people. I pray for tolerance of all people regardless of religion, race, or sexual orientation. Lastly, I pray for love, I want the people of this country to love one another. I want us to love one another not in spite of our differences but because of them. I want us to embrace differences as our first reaction rather than fear and hatred being the country’s first reaction to differences. When will we realize that as Martin Luther King Jr stated “…we are all threads interwoven in a single garment of destiny.” How well we recognize and manage our interdependence will determine how we as a people can control our destiny. We have a long road to travel, but I have faith that we will be better, and we will do better.
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.
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