I’m disgusted that Breonna Taylor was innocently killed while she peacefully slept in the “safety” of her home. I’m terrified for Black men and women in the South who go for a leisurely run through “neighboring” communities, only to be preyed, hunted and killed as Ahmaud Arbery was. I’m heartbroken that Aiyana Jones was brutally deprived of a longer life. I’m angry that George Floyd was blatantly asphyxiated by officers in uniform. I’m beside myself that Robert Muller was seemingly lynched in 2020. And I’m saddened by Riah Milton’s senseless murder and the phobia that drove it.
This Isn’t New.
By Yolanda Lopez
I’m disgusted that Breonna Taylor was innocently killed while she peacefully slept in the “safety” of her home.
I’m terrified for Black men and women in the South who go for a leisurely run through “neighboring” communities, only to be preyed, hunted and killed as Ahmaud Arbery was.
I’m heartbroken that Aiyana Jones was brutally deprived of a longer life.
I’m angry that George Floyd was blatantly asphyxiated by officers in uniform.
I’m beside myself that Robert Muller was seemingly lynched in 2020.
And I’m saddened by Riah Milton’s senseless murder and the phobia that drove it.
But I’m not shocked.
Racism has never ceased to exist nor does it impact anyone who isn’t of color. Fact. Fact. Fact.
Another fact: racism has existed for 400+ years, centuries that have been overlooked and ignored. Years of primarily Black men and women getting the long-lived brunt of immediate hate.
As a double-minority myself, I cannot begin to imagine what the Black experience is; to be heavily judged when walking into a room, to be given the stink eye for no reason other than existing, or for an application to be rejected because it’s apparent the applicant is of color.
I do experience this myself, and often times wonder if I’m not offered an opportunity because of my name, because it’s clear I’m a Latina, because it’s clear of who I am and where I come from.
While being black or brown should be seen as a color of strength, resilience and adversity survivors, we are seen as inept, a threat, uneducated, violent, criminals, and rapists.
Heck, we’re invisible half the time unless we are in an environment of our peers – it is only then, when I’m in a diverse crowd, that I feel included and see the beauty of my color in other’s faces.
But Black. A Black man walking into a mostly-white room, a Black person facing obstacles to promote within a white-dominant company, a Black person conditioned to over-annunciate, to be overly-courteous, and not to resist law enforcement. Geezus. The mindful effort it must take to acclimate and play it safe; to behave accordingly, to play the part. To add insult to injury, how much MORE fearful gay and transgender Black men and women are, how much more hate is spewed on top of their already black skin.
That everyday life is real; it exists everywhere and at all times. No matter the season, the occasion, the day or the hour. What is occurring in our climate now is not a string of patterns, or trends nor is it political; what is so obvious is that racism is magnified because it’s being recorded and broadcasted for the world to see.
And seeing is what the world is doing on every level, even mentally and on micro scales.
What’s happening today impacts my own mentality more than ever.
I live in a mostly white, affluent neighborhood where my family is one of two families of color on the entire street.
Sometimes I see a Black person walking through and I am both relieved to see color as bright and vibrant as mine, but craning my neck to see eyes peering through neighboring windows; half expecting a patrol car to come careening around the corner to harass this person and half silently encouraging this pedestrian to “get your walk in and don’t worry about the white-faced houses”.
But then I feel stupid – what if this person isn’t even concerned? What if this person is truly walking without a care in the world? Are my own thoughts interrupting their spirit? Am I stereotyping myself?
I was born and raised in Inglewood, an L.A. inner city where 50% of my high school was Black, 45% was Latino, and 5% was “Other”. I know life experiences, I know racial injustice, I know what it means to drive like I’m doing everything right when a patrol car is near. I know the feeling of being pulled over in my own damn neighborhood, removed from my car, sat on the curb while my car was inspected for drugs, weapons or “dead bodies”.
I face racial slurs more often that I can recall. I cringe when ignorant colleagues and schoolmates have made and verbalized very racist remarks.
“Do you speak Mexican?” or “Do you eat mostly beans and rice?” and “You look so exotic. You can’t be Mexican”.
People can be so ignorant.
Words like these hurt and impact me – they’re not always easy to dismiss, they instead fuel me to be the woman my Mom encouraged as a child:
You are not a doormat. You make sure people hear you. Use your voice. Don’t ever let anyone walk all over you.
This is true. True always and truer in our momentous, macro times.
The time to feel anything – hate, anger, empowered, sadness, depressed, disillusion, elevated, united – is now.
The time to let others fight because you’re tired of fighting the fight, is now. The racial reckoning is now. Now is not a time for allies, now is a time for action.
Teresa Chapa, PhD, MPA