An Open Letter to My Country

Dear America,

Another Black man was shot by the police last week. I’m not sure how many that makes now. I’ve lost count. They’ll soon turn his name into a trending hashtag until the next one is announced. That is, if it’s even announced. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Welcome to America where you’re in harms way just for the color of your skin. Is it 2016 or 1956?

Our ancestors were chained, hosed, beaten, lynched. Decades later we’re still being stopped, frisked, shot and left for dead. It’s like we don’t matter. But Black lives DO in fact matter. We are smart, beautiful, and so much more than the thugs they make us out to be. Sure, all lives matter. Nobody is arguing that people should not be treated differently because of their race, religion, gender, or sexuality. If you lose your arm to a shark and I say, “All arms matter” is that going to help your situation? Seems a little insensitive doesn’t it? Black lives matter and are the topic of discussion because we are endangered. That’s right, like a rare species they’re trying to wipe us out. I just can’t figure out why. What kind of threat does a man selling CD’s outside a convenience store pose? How can a cop feel at risk when a man is reaching for his license? Does the grace that glows from our melanin offend you? Does the brilliance that oozes from our pores make you uncomfortable?

I know what you have to say for yourself America but I can see right through your excuses. We’re dealing with racism. Don’t tip toe around. Don’t whisper it. Don’t turn the other cheek. Say it loud and say it proud – RACISM. It still exists in 2016 and we’re fully aware. That’s why our fathers tell us to comply with your cops. That’s why our mothers want us home before dark. “Don’t get pulled over. You may not ever make it home.” But why should we bite our tongues and sit pretty while the “men” in blue disrespect us?

I’m not advocating violence. Retaliation will get us no where on the journey to change. Rioting and burning down our own cities is exactly what they want. Instead I want us to speak up and protest. Fight for what is right. And you know what you can do for me America? You can stop hiring racists as law enforcement and placing them in predominantly Black communities. You can stop training your cops to fire at any sudden movement as if they’re on the battlefield. And for the love of God you can reprimand those that kill unarmed Black boys in cold blood instead of letting them off easy.

This isn’t a request. It’s a demand for change. I’m not ant-white or anti-cop. I’m anti-racism. I refuse to accept the fact that my people are hated and killed for just BEING.I don’t want my little brother’s name to become a hashtag because he reached in his pocket around an officer. I don’t want my dad gunned down on camera. Which brings me to these videos….what else do we have to do to prove we’re being mistreated? In my 21 years of life I’ve never seen death or a live murder for that matter until I logged on to Twitter last week. Murder. Allow yourself to acknowledge it for exactly what it is. When will enough be enough? I want to live to prove the stereotypes for African American women wrong, but I’m scared I won’t be able to at this rate. Black Lives Matter. My life matters. This isn’t up for debate.

Sincerely,

Young, Black, and Opinionated