BLACK LIVES MATTER: ONE NATION, INDIVISIBLE?
Updated: Jul 30
Coming from a black family in the Chicago hood, I grew up already knowing that life wasn’t fair. I went to an all-black elementary school, and learned about the Civil Rights
Movements and Black History that every worn-out textbook talked about.
I’d quickly become curious and self-conscious about the color of people’s skins and especially mine. I’d always wanted to get out of the hood and live in the “white people” neighborhood, where the crime rate didn’t make television news or make people feel like they lived in a pressure cooker.
Over time, I learned to love being black though, and never to take it for granted. But, although my family explained to me at a young age that racism is a fact of life for Black people and that I was going to experience whether I wanted to or not, nothing prepared me for when it actually happened. My first racist experience traumatized and inspired me to learn more about myself and my people.
As I hit my teenage years, I started to embrace my blackness and listen to Black Civil Rights leaders like Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Angela Rye.
In high school, for Halloween at my all-white school, we, the few black students, decided to dress up as members of the Black Panthers with our fros and all-black outfits, holding up our fists in the air, and nodding at each other in the halls with the message, “I see you, my black sister”.
Such a joyous memory, but it was destroyed when a private Facebook group of white mothers decided to post a picture of me and my friends, calling us racists and trying to get us kicked out of the school. They even compared us to the KKK and referred to a previous incident at a different school where a group chat that exposed students using the N-word got them expelled, only to have them return to the school and hold a pep rally.
Watch: Angela Davis: ‘This moment holds possibilities for change we have never before experienced' at https://youtu.be/i3TU3QaarQE
Fast-forward to the present day. What has made my heart race are the constant videos of white cops killing my people, such as George Floyd’s murder. I see all the recent Black deaths at the hands of the Law as a continuation of the ancestral history of people of color being oppressed and murdered in cold blood by the so-called protectors of the system. It inspires me to be stronger and fiercely advocate for Black Lives Matter because All Lives can’t Matter until Black Lives do.
~~ Jordon Atkins (New York City. June 2020)
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