I often find myself unraveling the ugly truths about America
quite often in my 17 years of life. Many people talk about freedom, or justice,
or equality but never bring up African Americans and our struggle to obtain it.
For many African Americans it almost seems as if it has become second nature to
notice injustice, speak on it, and fight against it. And in the words of civil
rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer “I am sick and tired of being sick tired”. It
is traumatic for many African Americans to watch videos of their own people die
by the hands of police officers and racists, while the world watches and
criticizes them for putting out their frustration. However, while many are
trying to comprehend what the media paints on our screens as “riots” and “violence”,
I think it is perfectly acceptable to say that this is what America was going
to look like when it acknowledges it’s history of systemic racism and
oppression. These events resulting from the death of George Floyd are not
occurring in a vacuum. These are the responses of the people who reside on the
other side of America.
America has never come to terms with its racist past, they
have only found ways to suppress it. America has shown how hypocritical it is.
Where Black men were thrown on the front lines to fight an unjust war in Vietnam.
For that they were promised justice, civil rights, and equality when they came
back. America lied. In return, they were given the news of the assassination of
Martin Luther King by Hanoi Hannah, a Vietnamese radio host back in the 1960’s.
Henrietta Lacks, a black woman from Roanoke, Virginia was diagnosed with cancer
and went to John Hopkins hospital (which was segregated at the time) to be
treated. She expected to be treated for her illness. However, her cancer cells
would be used unethically by Dr. George Otto Gey and countless of other
scientists in treating cancer. Her family to this day has never received
compensation while billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies profited because of
her. Or even when African Americans after slavery were promised 40 acres and a
mule but were met with lynching, brutality, and segregation. America’s history
with African Americans is clear when you see the hypocrisy of its history.
America has never come to terms with it’s racist past. It never came to terms
with the racist ideas that it carried with it from Europe. Therefore, what
develops is riots, uprisings, and protests.
It always bothered me how America has consistently found ways
to criminalize anything that African Americans did to survive. As well as,
finding a narrative that encompasses the idea that Malcolm X was a radical,
Rosa Parks was an old black woman, and Martin Luther King was always about
peace. As such, I feel I must create my own narrative of what occurring in
America today. Martin Luther King once said that our country needs “a radical
revolution of values”. That for us to heal as a country we must take all of
what is happening to face value and play a role in correcting the wrongs. The
voices of the unheard are showcasing the effects of policies like redlining, Black
Codes, criminalization of drugs, and slavery. That if people are looting
understand that 20.1% of African Americans are living in poverty while these
corporations do little to nothing to circulate wealth in the neighborhoods they
monopolize. That the reason you see a police station burn down is because of
the over policing in Black communities; that African Americans are 3 times more
likely to be arrested without being told what crime they have committed, brutalized,
and killed by police officers than white Americans. This is what a radical
revolution of values was going to look like. That people will start to value
black bodies more than replaceable buildings. That statues of confederate
leaders, bigots, and racists will be brought down. That the tree of White Supremacy
will be burnt down and uprooted. To then be replaced with a tree that
represents empathy and justice.
The way I view racism is that it is a machine. Where the
gears that work it, rotate vigorously no matter how many times you change them.
That we can fix it on the outside but forget that it was designed this way on
purpose. That the machine has no thoughts on why it is performing the act because
it follows its programming with efficiency. The radical revolution of values
starts with changing that programming so that the machines change also. We must
question why we were taught to think the way we do, value certain things over
others, and envision how we see the world for what it will become. What I ask
now is if America is a less racist society than it was 68 years ago, socially
not institutionally, then would you assume that 68 years later from now this
moment would make America a less racist society again?