I'll say it now and continue to say it until there is justice in America and all over the world: #BLACKLIVESMATTER. It actually breaks my heart that we have to say it as a society in 2016. We love to run from this fact. We love to hide from the hurt that America has caused black families and black people. But, guess what, they're lives matter to me and they should matter to you, too.
I can't lie, I grew up in a pretty white washed place. There were maybe 4 black kids at my high school and one of them was a Cavs player's daughter. My interaction with black people was as limited as you could imagine. Still, I have a passion for justice and equality - both "de jure" and "de facto" (Google it.... I'll wait....).
Because this is a "story telling" kind of blog, I'll give you my personal experiences with African American people as a young adult. It is my hope that you will giggle at my sheer ignorance and realize how human we all are - independent of color or race.
I used to work at a salon as a sixteen year old as a receptionist. The esthetician (fancy word for lady who is a skin care expert) was half black. She was such a powerful, strong role model and at the time I looked at her much like another mother. I have several figures like this within my life, but I remember her strength in particular. She was crazy as you could imagine. She would tell me things that would shock me as a sixteen year old on a daily basis, but I never thought to myself "gosh, we're so different!" She had unique life experiences, a beautiful daughter (who, I have read recently was called the n-word and it nearly sent me into cardiac arrest), and was (and still is) one of the most genuine people I know (And her shoes though, don't even get me started). She is fighting hard for people to see how much black lives really matter. She matters. She matters to me so much. And I'll be darned if anyone told me different.
Then, I went off to college. The first semester of freshman year I lived with a Jewish white girl and a "country" white girl. There was plenty of drama, but I never got close to them.
The second semester I moved to another dorm and it was me, a tiny Puerto Rican girl, and four black (or some portion of black) girls: Ashleigh, Dominique, Marshae (the troll that lived on our couch LOL) and Aisha. YOU CANNOT IMAGINE THE FUN THAT WE HAD. We literally could not be any more different in so many ways, but we all got along very well. There was drama, no doubt, but it was fun drama. I remember them sticking up for me when there would be dining hall drama with other girls. I remember us laughing until we would cry. I remember their huge 6'9'' basketball playing boyfriends who would come hang out in our living room and we would all laugh about how white and sheltered I was.
They introduced me to a new way of looking at hair. I taught them how funny Jim Gaffigan is. We had so much fun. I wish I could add photos from back then to show you just how much fun we had, but... yah, I can't.
Once I made a sign for a particular basketball player, who happens to be Muslim, and it said "MARRY ME MO" as a joke to make fun of how other girls were so in love with him. He made it his profile picture on Facebook and I had the dirtiest looks on campus for three weeks.
I love these weirdos. I love how they took me in as one of their own and while we could laugh about the differences (which were clear), we did not think differently of one another. Each of them individually has such a special place in my heart.
Now, I know this is probably meaningless to all of you because you don't know these influential black people in my life. But, the point is, when you get to know people from the "other," you will easily see how we are all the same. We bleed the same. We love the same.
I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't see color. I see it. But, it does not MATTER. Their lives, BLACK lives, matter. Surely, all lives matter, but right now the black ones are the ones that matter and deserve some more focus.
How are you going to let a 3 year old girl watch her father be murdered? I was thirteen when my mom died of a disease and I am permanently scarred.
How are you going to let a jerk kill a black kid and then flaunt it? I watched a bunny get killed on a road accidentally once and I still remember every little bit of horror I felt knowing there was nothing I could do about it.
How are you going to let this keep happening to innocent people? They're not burglars. They're not murderers. They're people.
Of all the communities I would like to speak to, it is the Muslim community that better hear me more than ever. We are constantly being grouped and labelled. We better speak out for our black brothers and sisters (independent of their religion) as we would expect the same level of respect and fellowship from them.
To my black friends, readers, people who don't care about me but are reading anyways, etc...: I love you. I promise to do all that I can or that is in my power to stand up for you and for injustices I see. I'm sorry that you live in fear. I'm sorry we are not enlightened. I'm sorry for the losses in your community: those we see and those we do not. I wish that all of the white supremacists had to do a DNA test to see how much "other" blood they had in them and I wish that it would change their opinion of how they see you.
Prophet Muhammad said the most beautiful words: "A white man has no superiority over a black man, nor a black man over a white man except by righteousness and good actions." He, the most noble leader in his time, had a best friend who happened to be a black slave. He loved him and portrayed his love for him as much as he could. I wish I could show you how much I love you, too <3
May God unite us all as ONE community - His community. May love always conquer hate. And, may God allow the truth that BLACK LIVES MATTER to radiate through every facet of our society as soon as possible. <3