Growing up biracial you sometimes find yourself having a bit of an identity crisis. Am I black? Am I white? My Dad was born and raised in West Virginia on the Tennessee border, in what some might call “the deep south” where racism, in those days, was touted like a badge of honor. My Mom came over from Trinidad and Tobago in her mid twenties, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to chase the American dream. They couldn’t have been more opposite. Everything that they were taught their whole lives was different, and yet they fell in love and had four little mixed babies.
My parents always raised us to love everyone no matter how they looked or what color their skin was, and they also raised us to celebrate our heritage. I grew up going to Carnival in DC, and listening to the steel drums play while rocking the Trinidadian flag. I also grew up going to West Virginia to hunt for deer and shoot shotguns in my Grandma and Pawpaw’s backyard. I’ve always felt like I could relate to both sides of my race 50/50, but it’s not until recently, that I’ve come to realize that I don’t really know the struggles of black people at all. I have never been blatantly discriminated against because of the color of my skin, but I have seen it happen countless times over the course of my life to people in my family. My brother, my cousins, and even my mom have all been victims of our society’s systematic racism. Black men are considered a threat or a criminal, and black women are considered angry or attitudinal before they even open their mouths.
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend on the phone and she said, “I can’t believe all of these black people are looting and robbing stores, they are completely ruining the message that we are supposed to be conveying”. And I said, “Not every black or brown person is looting, there are WAY more people protesting peacefully than there are people looting, but the news just doesn’t show you that”. She said, “Yeah but can you really tell the difference between who is and who isn’t?” And I said, “That is the problem, people want to categorize all brown people as criminals. Society doesn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Seeing things that way is why we are in this mess to begin with. It is your job to be more discerning before casting judgement”. We could all work harder to get rid of our implicit bias. Don’t lump people together and throw up your hands just because it’s easy. That, by definition, is what being prejudiced is all about.
I am sad and angry about how people of color have been treated in America. I stand with black people and support them in their fight for justice. Because Liberty and Justice for all is supposed to be what the USA is all about. #BlackLivesMatter