Historically, black people have had to endure treacherous situations. Being black in America means that you have to deal with things that are systematically put in place to continue the oppression that we already feel, and most of the time you can’t do anything about it.
This hit home for me. I’ll explain.
Racism doesn’t let people see you as a person.
When I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, I stayed in a vintage-looking hostel not too far from campus. I had never been to Boston, so in my spare time in between my classes and practicing, I would go exploring Boston and the shops in the area. This particular day, I had taken a break from studying, and was anxiously awaiting dinner to be served in the cafeteria. There was a huge Steinway grand piano that sat off to the right in the sitting area. I hadn’t bothered to play it, because there were practice rooms on campus so I was able to use those at my leisure. I sat down and began to play. There were a few women sitting in that area who enjoyed my playing, but there was one white woman who kept staring over at me, seeming annoyed. I continued to play, but after awhile she got up and walked over to me and said, “Nobody wants to hear your people’s kind of music.”
I was mortified, but continued to play, not even looking up or focusing on her. After a while, she left the room and I sat there with tears in my eyes. I called home and talked to my mom for a while about how I felt and what the woman said to me. My mom said, “I’m not surprised by that. You’re black in a white world, but stay focused and be your best.”
Has that been the only experience? No
All across this country, and even overseas, we see the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” There isn’t one black person alive who has not experienced racism or discrimination on some level or another. As a black person living in this society, you always have to strive to be better than your counterparts and go above and beyond to prove your worth. Apologies aren’t good enough anymore. We will no longer be silent!
We are seeking change, and will continue to march until this change comes about. But with change comes pain, and it won’t happen overnight.
What can you do?
- Support black businesses, participate in a march, but acknowledge and dismiss white privilege, understanding that the color of your skin does not make you better than anyone else.
- Demand equality on all levels for all people. Hold your public officials accountable for the outrageous police brutality and discrimination against black people.
- Don’t just say black lives matter, show you mean it.
- Change your policies and give more black people the chance to sit at the table and have their voice heard.
To those who stand with us, we thank you!
End this oppression. Because guess what? We didn’t ask for it.
May we speak their names.
And to all the others who have lost their lives, we remember you.
Black Lives Matter.
About the Author: Kandis Draw is on the advisory board of Curvicality. She is a cancer support advocate, classical pianist and lover of all things sparkly.
What have you done to show you believe Black Lives Matter? Please join the conversation in the comments.