This month has been full of headlines about death and I’m so deeply saddened by all the senseless violence going on right now. Every day there’s a new name, a new hashtag, a new innocent black person cut down in the midst of life. Mothers, fathers, daughters and sons all taken from this world because their skin dare to be anything other than white.
As a black woman who has a big family that comes from the rural south of Texas, I have witnessed subtle racism and seen when subtle turns into blatant. Living in the South, I’ve seen my fair share of confederate flags, which always manage to make my heart sink just a tiny bit. I’ve been asked why I don’t just go back to Africa (though it was played as a joke). I’ve been told that I’m so well spoken (which is followed with a silent for a black girl).
Often in the wake of tragedies such as the shootings of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the cops killed and injured in Dallas, I always feel a great sadness followed by a sense of dread for the world and the lives that have been taken so soon. I worry about my loved ones and how they will fare in a society that doesn’t always treat black people fairly. When I look into the sweet and innocent faces of my one and three year old cousins, I worry that the world won’t give them a fair chance. I shouldn’t have to look at children and hope their names never follow a hashtag. They are strong enough to grow up in a world that will constantly tell them they don’t matter. A world that values black music, hairstyles and black features wrapped in white skin more that it values black men and women.
I hope that somehow a family that’s filled with love will shield them from the injustice that runs rampant within the world. I hope that their beautiful minds are nurtured by every one of their teachers. I hope they know that they can do anything they put their minds to, and I hope that everyone who meets these two beautiful girls sees what I see and not just the complexion of their skin.
But how is such a world going to exist when people like Trump run for office while preaching hate? When being black is the only reason you end up dead. When the news is more frightening than a horror movie ever could be. Martin Luther King had a dream and though we may have accomplished some of that dream we are far from done. I hope that one day we do better, that we actually change what is happening on a fundamental level. We cannot just pour glitter and empty gestures on a pile of manure and call it fixed. I want to live in a place where I never have worry about my two cousins being judged, measured and weighed in the eyes of people before they open their mouths.
Some days I feel like hope is all but lost and the world will never change, it will only tumble more out of control but a very good friend reminded me that you must have hope because sometimes hope is all you have. If you give up hope, you’re giving up all that’s left. This can’t be the answer in the face of something as important as how humans of all color are treated. When I look into the eyes of my cousins, I know that I have to keep hope because something has to change for the better.