Exist to Resist


Source: Urban Habitat

My Blackness is political.
The life in me,
my very breath,
sends a message,
I am still here,
we are still here.
    Exist  to Resist

I have not been the same since Oscar Grant was murdered. I cannot be in Oakland or ride BART without thinking about him and his family. I used to listen to stories about the Civil Rights Movement and feel glad that Black people no longer had to endure the same domestic terrorism anymore, but then I saw more and more murders of black people in the U.S.: Stephone Clark, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Muhlaysia Booker, Micheal Brown, Trayvon Martin, Chynal Lindsey, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and so many others.

These murders made me reflect on my life and the racism Black people face in America. I thought about the way I have been treated by some educators, employers, medical professionals, college administrators, and guidance counselors. I thought about the medical experiments done on Black people without their consent, how a noose was found at one of my brother’s elementary schools, how crack was purposely put into black communities, police brutality, the wealth gap, inequity in pay, mass incarceration, the housing crisis, the lack of support for low-income families of color, and the lack of respect for Black people with disabilities. I thought about how our mental health and pain gets dismissed, and I realized nothing has changed.

Every time I see the name of another Black person murdered by the police, my heart hurts. This level of suffering should not be familiar. The grief I feel has been passed down generation after generation. Each generation fighting to survive and experiencing mental and physical abuse due to state-sanctioned violence. Whenever we try to defend ourselves, we are met with even more violence. I grew up listening to my grandmother’s tales of surviving racism in the South, this grief is too familiar.

When George Floyd was murdered, I felt an exhaustion that I have never experienced in my life. As I watched his daughter and her mother on television, along with the images of police brutality inflicted on protestors, I was baptised in grief. I felt angry, and with the anger came some painful yet necessary reflections.

Racism is exhausting to deal with because it affects every facet of our lives. It affects where you can live, how you are treated where you live, access to post-secondary education, where you can travel, your hiring prospects, what type of medical treatment you receive, access to information, how clean the air is in your neighborhood, and much more.

Being a Black woman in America means that I have to be brave in everything I do. I am constantly facing opposition even when I am doing something as simple as sharing my lived experiences. There is so much work that needs to be done to achieve racial equity. I have committed my life to be a part of that change because Black people deserve better, our lives matter!

I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space  
Assigned to me.

I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
That all these walls oppression builds
Will have to go!

I look at my own body  
With eyes no longer blind—
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind.
Then let us hurry, comrades,
The road to find. – By Langston Hughes

A random man walked up to me once while I was in a store and asked me if I could have one thing in this world, what would it be, and I said freedom. Freedom to move where I want, to live how I want. Freedom to voice my opinion and be heard, freedom from worry about safety, freedom to be treated equitably in medical settings and in schools, freedom from racism, freedom from sexism, freedom to have access to learn what I want, freedom to practice my culture no matter where I am, freedom to speak however I want, freedom to be me without people trying to define who I am based on my skin color. Every day I have to fight to exist unapologetically.

My Blackness is political.
The life in me,
my very breath,
sends a message,
I am still here,
we are still here.
    Exist to Resist

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