It’s taken me a while to process the events of the last few days. Much like the black experience in America, these events are complex and difficult to unpack. I have greatly struggled to conceptualize my emotions and I have to admit that I am not okay.
On one hand, I have watched scenes of immeasurable strength across the nation that have united people of all races and creeds; it lifts my heart to see so many infuriated by the state of race relations in this country. However, on the other hand, I have also been incredibly shaken by the scenes of violence and destruction playing out in neighborhoods across the country. Whether at the hands of looters or police using violence against peaceful protesters, it is a shocking pivot from the crux of the matter and has the potential to muddy the waters and set this conversation back many years.
One fascinating thing that has happened as a result of this moment is that I have been contacted by white friends expressing their love and support of me during this time. From various corners of my life, I have never shared my experience with race in this country with many of them; however, they have pledged their support to my black life and actively want to help make my life better. They have asked what I need from them, and I have taken time to reflect on that request. It is something that no one has really ever asked of me, but it is such an important aspect of the movement moving forward. Here is what I have come up with:
All that I need is for you to remember. Remember your immense privilege and status due to the color of your skin as often as I remember that lack of privilege and status due to mine. Remember that privilege as soon as you wake, as you walk through your day, and as you go to sleep. Think of the doors it has opened, the problems it has allowed you to escape unscathed, and how you have held it up as a beacon and wielded it as a weapon against me.
Remember me. No, don’t think of me now when it’s sexy and woke to walk in the street with throngs of people and holding a sign. Don’t think of me when you’re posting photos and videos of the protests and its effects on social media as Content.
Think of me next week, when the world will move on and things will quiet and slow down. Think of me when one of your friends tries to minimize this moment and focus on broken windows rather than the broken black bodies of centuries of oppression in your nation.
Remember me when your family members say something that you know is racist but you’ve never had the heart to correct them. Correct them now! Tell them about me. Tell them about the time I walked into my high school English class and someone called me the N-word with no warning. Tell them about the time that someone told me the only reason I got into college was because of my skin color, minimizing my many academic achievements.
Remember me when you’re in the voting booth and you have a choice to make that could impact people like me for generations. Remember me when you’re being paid more than me, but we’re both doing the same job. Remember me when it’s quiet, uncomfortable, and annoying. That’s what I need from you. Because only then will this be worth it.