I am so tired of seeing the disrespect for black life in this country. This is not to say that the disrespect is a surprise. After all, this is the same country that was founded primarily by racist slaveholders who did nothing to stop the brutal institution of slavery, while simultaneously claiming to “establish justice,” “promote the general welfare” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” among other promises, in the preamble to the American Constitution. They really should have added the phrase “for white men” after each of these clauses if they wanted to be completely honest.
This is also the same country that, after five years of going to war with itself over slavery, legalized segregation with the establishment of Jim Crow laws and the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, which was not overturned until 58 years later in Brown v. Board of Education.
Sure, white America was finally forced to acknowledge the inarguable fact that separate IS inherently unequal, but that did not put an end to the discriminatory actions that we’ve seen taken, like police brutality.
In 2015 alone, we have seen the untimely deaths of Walter Scott, Freddie Grey, Eric Garner, and the Charleston 9. Sadly, these are just some of the high-profile victims of police violence and/or the racially charged actions of white supremacists.
More recently, Sandra Bland was removed from her car and unjustly arrested by a white police officer. How she died remains a mystery, but it’s fact that she was mistreated by a southern police officer who was previously accused of racist acts on the job.
Nothing has been done by Congress –– the institution that was designed by our forefathers to make laws to govern and improve the United States –– to put a stop to racialized discrimination by the police force. Our Republican-led Congress has and likely will continue to resist any effort for stricter gun control laws (See Laura Carr’s op-ed “When ‘crazy’ becomes reality: why we need gun control” for more on gun control).
No matter how many people are unlawfully killed or mistreated by law enforcement due to the pigment of their skin, no laws are being made to end it. Sure, the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse was a good start, but I need to see real, long-awaited action.
Sadly, the most we can expect from these lawmakers is a half-hearted tweet expressing their “condolences” on Twitter with little to no legislative action to support their words.
Watching the unlawful deaths and the mistreatment of my fellow black Americans is not the only reason why I’m exhausted. It’s also taxing to constantly explain why certain comments are insensitive, especially when you’re talking to someone who actually IS black.
As a black woman, my beliefs about race are belittled to being told that my “liberal biases” are causing me to focus on race too much rather than the actual reasons that I take such a strong stance on race, like the numerous instances of discriminatory acts by civilians and members of the police force alike.
I am so tired of explaining over and over again why certain comments are racist, inappropriate and ignorant. But on the other hand, how can I not respond to these comments? How can I allow my friends and peers to make comments that are offensive to my fellow black Americans and those who are allies to the Black Lives Matter cause? (Side note: saying Black Lives Matter does NOT mean that you don’t believe all lives matter).
I can’t. And it’s not because I want to personally attack anyone or because I want to single anyone out. It’s because I hope that maybe, just maybe, my willingness to express my experiences as a black woman in America will resonate with my peers.
But it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to continue pointing out why certain comments are offensive, and it’s exhausting to attempt to be respectful to my peers whose comments are anything but. Oftentimes, and to my dismay, I doubt that my voice is making a difference.
Still. I refuse to stop doing my part to stop allowing racism to perpetuate itself. I refuse to not stand up for my beliefs and my race. No apologies.
Jewell Porter: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jewell_porter.