Black people are constantly reminded in the media how little our lives matter: “Beauty” images, television shows…all of it demonstrates what is considered valuable in society. The lighter you are the more you are valued as a person, and the more your interests are protected and supported. Meanwhile, persons of colour everywhere live with the sting of institutionalized racism, violent racism, and self-hate and internalized racism too ( as a result of all those racist-isms).
That a 12 year old child would be shot for playing with a fake gun; that Mike Brown (with his arms raised) was shot by an ‘officer’ of the law who, sometime after taking an oath to ‘serve and protect, chose to snuff out a precious life (rather than shoot at his arm or leg in order to end an alleged risk to his own life); that Trayvon Martin would be shot while walking in his own neighbourhood, where his father lives; that black people everywhere question whether they should have children, and where we should live once we have them; that we spend all our lives thinking about how to be ‘twice as good to be good enough;’ that we think about how to explain to our parents that we don’t want to do a ‘sure thing’ job’; that we question whether or not we’re really going to get a chance to do what we really want to do in our lives..if all of this is not enough to make you sick to your stomach, then I don’t know what to say to you.
Yesterday a grand jury, the judge, and the prosecutor (who probably never worked so hard in his life to release a guilty male from justice) set the murderer of Mike Brown free. They once again reminded us that there can be no justice in a system that is unjust. How can black lives be defended when the system doesn’t even consider black people worth anything? Where is the respect for human life? I can’t see it.
If nothing else, what I took from this is how important it is for me to live my life in exactly the way that feels right to me. When you experience first hand the impact of racism in your own life, and you are constantly reminded of how hard it is for every other black person out there (re: police brutality, literally being guilty of being black, and being shown how little regard or value there seems to be in the system for black lives), it becomes more important to focus on being with people who enrich and add value to your life. I want to tell every single person I love, just what they mean to me.
To find out more about Mike Brown’s story, please click the following links: