To the Editor:
This past week has not taught me a single thing. I was not surprised by the brutality of the police, I was not surprised when people had more to say about vandalism than they did about murder, I was not surprised when people were silent, I was not surprised by the tear gas thrown nor the rubber bullets fired, I was not surprised by the people pretending to be protesters in order to incite violence, and I certainly was not surprised by the President of the United States inviting harm to protesters under the guise of law and order. It is nothing short of insulting to call any of this surprising.
If you think this is surprising you are not paying attention. You are admitting that you either did not believe black people when they explained the state of racism or that you lived in the blissfully ignorant bubble of white privilege. The brutality of the police is not new and it certainly is not shocking. The police are not, have never been, and will never be for black people. “Serve and protect” will always be nothing but propaganda. You cannot grow a plant if you poison the roots. The system is not broken, as many well-meaning white allies claim, it was built like this.
Racism is built so deeply into the DNA of America that when you insult it, many believe that you are insulting America itself. The very people that wrote “All men are created people” owned other people. The hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance are comical. The very men that feared tyranny, being under the complete control of a foreign king, created a government that endorsed slavery.
This week has been nothing but a reminder of what I can never forget. I will never truly have a place in a country that will watch a video of my murder and put me on trial for it. I will never have a place in a country that my ancestors built for free but never got the credit for. We cannot run from the law enforcement when they mean us harm; we cannot cry for every black body that falls victim to racism, not from lack of want but because there are simply too many; and we cannot receive a moment of mercy when we are bombarded with images of man’s murder and the knowledge that the knee of that officer could have been on our neck.
I am tired. We are tired. My entire life, we have been shown the aspiring activism of black leaders, like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who made himself more palatable to white America. He was a respectable and peaceful black and they murdered him anyway. I will never change myself for white comfort or shrink myself down for white fragility, especially when they have never made room for my blackness or my existence. Meanwhile, Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party are villainized.
I have not learned anything this week, but to everyone who did, I am glad we have your attention. Keep learning. Complacency kills. Your silence is permission. There is no such thing as knowing enough about racism. If you were shocked by what has occurred, realize how your black counterparts endure this every day.
Junior, Kenwood Academy