“Not Just Black Lives!”: On Inclusivity

The Black Lives Matter Movement was started by three black women activists: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullers, and Opal Tometi in 2012. This is not the first black movement that has gone on in America or the world. But for millennials like me, this is the first movement that we get to actively participate in. And in college, especially a prestigious school such as Duke, amongst the privilege and the fake-deeps, it gets so exhausting having to explain my passion and my stance. I often get the whole spiel about how it isn’t about just black people and how I should talk about more than just black people. And they are certainly correct. There are So many black, brown, yellow, and red faces in this country who need so much support to help against the oppressor. And for that, I make it an effort to put myself in the know of other people’s struggles, and while I am not perfect, I do what I can and I learn. But at some point, my words and my actions need to be specifically for those of African descent.

I am a black young LGBTQIA+ female in America in 2015. I have no other option than to put my Blackness first, because in the white supremacist country, one sees my Blackness before all. I am a student at one of the top ten universities in the nation, but that won’t matter if I get pulled over by a cop or if I encounter the more active racists. Do I choose to make things about race all the time? No. I didn’t choose. I have never had that choice. That choice was made by people long ago who thought that it would be nice to work my ancestors to death with absolutely no remorse.

This is the land of the free and home of the brave, but the system of American chattel slavery is what still binds me in chains. As the fourth of July passed and I did absolutely nothing I had people asking me why I chose not to celebrate, I wanted nothing more than to look at them sideways, upside down, left and right. Explain to me why I should celebrate the freedom of the country from 1776 when long after my people still were and are persecuted. This is the country where my ancestors were brought into this country against their wills in the deaths of a death ship. This is the country where my black male ancestors were beaten for the sake of William Lynch and his colleagues and superiors, and my black female ancestors raped and murdered under the same sake. In this country we have seen the pouring of acid into swimming pools, the bombing of churches, homes, and places of business. The brutal lynchings of black people over and over while people held picnics and watched and made postcards of it.

All of this happened so long ago, but it continues even now. My black women continue to be killed and only silence salutes them until someone forgets them. My black men continued to get filmed executions and we get the usual justifications and slandering of the dead. My family cannot walk into stores nor drive around without authority following us around because we are suspicious. I still get people telling me “When I look at you, I don’t see color, it’s like you’re not even black.” We have nooses hung on campuses and racist chants taunted at us only to have people go after the BSA later on because the university has covered up our anger and injustice with a story just thin enough to spread across the bread of this racist sandwich and get a good taste.

My Blackness is something that has effected me every single day of my life. I wake up everyday and thank God that I am alive, that no security guard on campus thought me as a threat because of the way that I walked. I go outside at night with my friends hoping that the cops don’t roll up and put us in chokeholds and body slams because we are “causing a disturbance”.  All lives do matter, but we continue to see these occurrences, all the while history books show less and less of the true past we come from. We continue to see the news and media get all upset about the ending of the means, without trying to come up with any preventative measures whatsoever. We continue to be told that they don’t see race, and that our color shouldn’t matter, because they are uncomfortable of the actions done against us from the early 1600s to now.

Yet when I speak of my Blackness, my proud, bold Blackness, I am told to empathize for others, to include them as well. But where were they when I wake up and have to worry about whether today will be the end of my life or the lives of my family? I empathize so much with the lives of black people. I can feel their pain, and I want to help. But where, in my life, is the empathy for my pain, for my life, for my life?

Until I get that empathy, I will continue to talk about black lives first and foremost, because I know that if I don’t do it, then nobody else will do it.

-JW

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