On June 15th, I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook like I always do, and I saw a post justifying the police officers shooting Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. I’m nosy and enjoy reading Facebook comments to see who’s ignorant and who actually has sense. As I was going through these comments, there was one that stood out and made me very upset. Normally, comments on social media never (and I mean NEVER) make me want to act on it. But that day, I’d had enough.
The comment was made by this old white dude saying that the policemen wasted bullets and should’ve lynched Rayshard. That comment made me sick to my stomach, and I don’t know what kind of awful person would ever post anything so cruel online. I thought it would be in my best interest to report it.
The next morning, I got a notification from Facebook saying that they didn’t take down his comment because “it doesn’t go against any of our Community Standards.” How does saying that a Black man deserves to get lynched not go against your Community Standards, Facebook? Not only is that clearly hate speech, but it’s also insensitive and just downright evil. I’m so disgusted that Facebook would let something like that slide.
Now, hear me out: I know for a fact that Rayshard’s actions did deserve some consequences. Driving drunk, resisting arrest, and stealing an officer’s taser wasn’t the smartest move on his end. People also pointed out that he has a criminal history. Did he deserve to go to jail for his actions? Absolutely. What I don’t understand is why that justifies murdering him.
Do you mean to tell me that the only way to deescalate the situation was to shoot him in the back? Was there really no other way? If you felt the need to use your gun to take him down, why not aim for his foot or leg? A taser is not a lethal weapon, so the officer’s life wasn’t in any serious danger. I just don’t get why he had to die.
Honestly, I’m fed up with all the racism going on in the world and on social media. And you know what? On the morning of June 16th, I felt genuinely scared for the first time in my life. Scared for my life. Scared for my family’s life. Scared that while my dad is out there doing his yard work, something might happen to him just because he’s a Black man. Scared something might happen to my older brother or my little nephews just because they’re Black. I don’t want my family to senselessly lose their lives because of the color of their skin. I’ve never been this scared before because where I live, this doesn’t happen often. I’ve always had faith that my friends and loved ones would be protected. I guess it’s just becoming too real.
How is it that we’re in 2020, and Black people are still being targeted and discriminated against? I recently thought back on all the subtle bits of racism that I’ve dealt with in my life, and I’m honestly thankful that it wasn’t anything that ended horrendously. Most of the time, it was just exclusion. When I was in college, I was working in the library’s computer lab when there were these White sorority girls that were giving people buttons and encouraging other girls to join their sorority. They were giving every single person in the computer lab a button, but once they got to me, the only Black girl in the room, I was skipped over. They literally walked past me to give the White girl sitting two chairs down from me a button. And then left the room. 😕
There was also a time where I was one of the four Black girls in my creative writing class in college. We all wrote short stories, and when it was time to workshop our stories, this one White girl (we’ll call her Sally) critiqued one of the other Black girl’s stories (we’ll call her Ashley) way too harshly. Ashley showed me the comments that Sally wrote, and a majority of them weren’t even constructive criticism. Her comments were blatantly disrespectful and completely uncalled for. There was also a time when our class went to this book art center at our school’s library, and I was sitting next to Sally. The chairs were so close together that our shoulders were almost touching. There was a sign-in sheet being passed around, and what does Sally do after signing in? You would think she would hand me the sheet since I was sitting next to her, but no. She turns around, gives the sign-in sheet to the person behind her (another White girl), and completely skips over me. After I eventually got the sign-in sheet, Sally looks at me and says, “oh, my gosh. Did I forget to give it to you? I’m so sorry.” Come on. I mean, I was sitting way too close to this girl for her not to notice me. There’s no way she “accidentally” forgot to give me the sign-in sheet. She chose not to.
There was another time that I was at a football game with my boyfriend and his family (they’re also White). During halftime, my boyfriend’s mom, nana, and I all decided to go to the restroom together, and instead of walking all the way down the bleachers, we went to some sort of lounge room area at the top of the bleachers. It was easier since my boyfriend’s nana uses a cane, and that area was a lot closer. Apparently, that lounge room area required a wristband to enter, and a man was standing at the door, letting everyone in and out. My boyfriend’s mom and nana got inside without any issues, but when I tried to go in right behind them, the man at the door stopped me, took me by my wrist, and asked where my wristband was. I probably was the only Black person in the large crowd of people coming in and out of the lounge room area, and he never stopped anyone else. I had to tell him that I was with the two women who just went in before me because we all wanted to use the restroom, then he let me go. Honestly, it was pretty embarrassing and scary being grabbed by the wrist and stopped from entering a room when you haven’t done anything wrong.
Those are some of the ones that I remember and let slide when they first happened. I didn’t want to believe that they were prejudiced. I didn’t want to think that I was being treated differently because I was Black, but sadly, that was the case. Again, I’m so thankful I haven’t dealt with anything way worse and that I haven’t been called any derogatory racial slurs. Even the most subtle forms of racism can still leave an impact.
For my mental health’s sake, I had to take a little break from social media after the whole thing happened with Facebook not removing a comment that was promoting racial hate. Now, I’m trying to do what I can to educate myself and try to make a change. I’ve been signing and sharing petitions, I’ve been looking to support Black-owned businesses, reading and sharing articles on Facebook, and I’ve also been sharing some of the good news that’s been happening. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I can only hope some of the things that I’ve shared on my social media has educated and helped others. There are tons of ways that you can help, but the first step in making a change is to vote.
Thank you for listening to my rant, and I truly hope you’re doing all that you can to help make a change when it comes to racial equality. It’s important to listen, learn, and fight for what’s right in whatever way you can. All lives matter when Black lives matter. ✊🏿✊🏿
Thanks so much for reading!