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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Gaither


Updated: Nov 3, 2020

As I sit and gather myself, my thoughts, and feelings to pen this, I am flooded with all types of emotion. As a 24 year-old black male, I am infuriated. I am confused. I am hurt. But most importantly, I am fed up. In just a few months we have created even more hashtags. We have mourned the loss of too many of our people. Even more precious black human beings have been removed from this earth due to the barbaric, senseless, gutless actions of white people, white privilege, and white dominance. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more recently George Floyd are some of the public victims who violently lost their lives. Again, these cases are just a few of publicized stories as there are even more and continues to be hundreds (into the thousands of black people) whose lives have been taken by cruel beings who continually hide behind systematic racism disguised in shape of police badges, laws, and policies that have been instilled for an abundance of years.

Now, let me make it crystal clear that I am not an activist. I do not know each and every fact about all of the cases of black people who are killed by either random white citizens or white police officers. I am not a lawmaker nor am I a politician. What I am is a writer. I will not sit and let the platform I have (whether big or small) not be used to spread awareness. Because, they will understand WE MATTER. When they kill us they do not even think about the fact that a precious life is gone. A father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, grandfather, mother, sister, grandma, aunt, cousin, niece, etc., is gone. This narrative continues to take place without proper justice, without proper coverage, and without proper representation. And I don't know about you, but I'm weary. I'm DISGUSTED. My heart aches with pure agony every time I see another beautiful black face posted up on the news. Literally almost every month, there is a new hashtag, a new traumatizing, social media video, or a new story where someone who looks just like me has been unrightfully killed. To make matters even worse, many of these cases end with the same result - NOTHING (or the very bare minimum that the government feels is enough to shut us up for a few months)...

The last time I wrote freely like this, we'd just lost Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I was 20 years-old, about to turn 21. Fast forward to today, I will be 25 in September and the narrative remains the same. STOP KILLING US. WE MATTER. WE WILL ALWAYS MATTER. Moments ago, I looked back and re-read the words I wrote when those injustices took place and you know what? I unapologetically stand by each and every one of those words today. Since Floyd's killing, riots have erupted all throughout the world. In cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Tallahassee, Oakland, and even our Nation's Capital, riots have literally sparked one after another.

While I am all for the protests and even some various elements of the riots I have a few things I would like to share from my heart.

Firstly, let me make it illicitly clear, I do not under any circumstances condone violence, aggression, and blatant harm towards people or even all police. If you came here to read pure hatred towards whites and police, I'm sorry. While I believe that many of them (both white people and white police) from my own personal experiences, are prejudiced, discriminative, and cruel, I know everyone is not like that. I do not condone the looting. Pay attention closely, I do not necessarily condone it but I understand to an extent the anger, frustration, and hopelessness that has infiltrated many of my people's hearts.

However, I will not agree with looting, destruction, and blatant intentional ignorance conducted towards black communities and stores. These very stores that have shaped and institutionalized many of these communities will not be able to recover from these riots. The resources they provide will then be lost and this will further increase the struggles of our people even the more. These white companies and corporations will rebuild their stores, rebuild their brands, and more. But as for the black stores and business? They will suffer, people will be in need, and left with nothing. This is not being done in honor of our George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Ahmaud Arberys, Alton Sterlings, etc. If you don't agree with me, that's fine. You have that right. But do not treat me like I do not care about my people. That's where I have a problem and you become part of the problem.

Secondly, I'm calling out white people, other people of color, and various allies, brands, & companies who continue to befriend, profit off, utilize, capitalize on, and engage with black people, culture, fashion, lifestyle stories, music and more. Some of you nauseatingly try to imitate what you think is "black" and what you think is "down" only when it is positive and profiting. You music companies and managers who look for, profit on, and reap benefit on black culture.

However, if you are going to receive us, receive our issues; receive our hurt; receive our pain. If you really care for us, PULL UP just like Rihanna said; BE ACCOUNTABLE. Take charge and check your white brothers and Nationalists who actually have initiated much of the looting and continuously try to derail black people. Stop trying to avoid the facts. Your avoidance of the issue is indeed a factor in the problem. USE YOUR PRIVILEGE THE RIGHT WAY. Your silence speaks even more volume whether you believe it or not.

Finally, last night, I watched this video on YouTube from TNT that highlighted a clip from the 2017 docu-series "American Race," hosted by Charles Barkley. There was a clip that literally struck me with a moment of enlightenment. It explained to me the "why" in why some white people think the way they do. NPR writes that the show, "manages to illuminate some truths about the way Americans talk about race is largely accidental. Over its four episodes, the impolitic former NBA star travels to different parts of the country trying to dig into racial controversies that have bubbled up locally."

In the clip, Richard Spencer, a Neo-Nazi, conspiracy theorist and white supremacist explains his reasoning to Barkley about white social dominance, supremacy, and even his fear of becoming a minority.

When I first watched this, I immediately was shocked and uneasy with his remarks. After talking to a both my friend and cousin, they helped to process why this conversation was actually great. While utterly wrong, I respected the ability for Barkley, the other gentleman, and Spencer to engage in this calm dialog so that we could highlight the "why" in why these people feel how they feel in regards to supremacy, people of color, black people, and more. Ever since watching, every radical statement or action I've seen from white people now simply does not shock me. It goes back to that "why." Just like Spencer there are lawmakers, policyholders, judges, policemen, and more who hold this exact attitude and make decisions that impact our lives daily.

In closing, just as I shared nearly 4 years ago, "We must firstly unify and become one. How can you expect to deal with any outside obstacles when there is division and strife within our own group? The negativity must end! We have to rid ourselves of ignorance and embrace knowledge."

As I said before, I will say it again, we must not be divided. We must stay together even the more in these times. Currently we are fighting both a pandemic and continuous racism that are both intent on taking us out. We need to call out our own brothers and sisters (when they attack one another), call out our oppressors each and every time, and hold all parties accountable. We need to be strategic and create a forum that promotes positive change and healthy dialogue necessary to impact future generations properly. Whether you agree or disagree with peaceful protests, being compliant, or... harsher methods, one constant is, change must occur.

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