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June 4, 2020

“I Can’t Breathe” & All it Entails.

A worthwhile read: Hey America, I Can’t Breathe.

And: I am Black. This is what I Need (&what I Don’t) from White Allies.

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I’m a light-skinned Latina, so I’m considered “safe.”

I have recently realized that for a large period of my life, I have been privileged. I have done so many things in my routine activities that I have never had to think about twice.

If you are Caucasian, your experience (or non-experience) of fear might have been pretty similar to mine. However, I want us to think, for a moment, about other people. Specifically, people of color. Their daily experience is different than mine and yours.

Think about the following activities, and whether you ever worry about your safety, or your family’s safety, in carrying them out:

>> Sleep (Aiyana Jones, seven years old and Breonna Taylor, 26 years old) 

>> Play with a toy gun (Tamir Rice, 12 years old)

>> Leave a party to get to safety (Jordan Edwards, 15 years old)

>> Walk home with Skittles and iced tea (Trayvon Benjamin Martin, 17 years old)

>> Play loud music (Jordan Davis, 17 years old)

>> Walk from the corner store (Michael Brown Jr., 18 years old)

>> Ask for help after being in a car crash (Jonathan Ferrell, 24 and Renisha McBride, 19 years old)

>> Party on New Year’s Eve (Oscar Grant III, 22 years old)

>> Hold a BB gun at Walmart (John Crawford III, 22 years old)

>> Hold a cellphone (Stephon Clark, 23 years old)

>> Leave your own bachelor party (Sean Bell, 23 years old)

>> Take out your wallet (Amadou Diallo, 23 years old)

>> Jog (Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, 25 years old)

>> Be transported without incurring “spinal cord injuries severe enough to send you into a coma from which you don’t survive” (Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., 25 years old)

>> Relax in the comfort of your own home (Botham Jean, 26 and Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28)

>> Get stopped because you “looked suspicious.” (Sandra Bland, 28 years old)

>> Have car problems (Corey Jones, 31 years old)

>> Lawfully carry a weapon (Philando Castile, 32 years old)

>> Sell CDs (Alton Sterling, 37 years old)

>> Labeled a “bad dude” (Terence Crutcher, 40 years old)

>> Breathe (Eric Garner, 43 years old)

>> Exit your car while police approach (Keith Lamont Scott, 43 years old)

>> Be arrested without the fear of being brutally murdered (George Perry Floyd, 46 years old)

>> Run (Walter Scott, 50 years old)

>> Go bird-watching (Christian Cooper, 57 years old)

>> Go to church (Charleston Church shooting)

Please tell me if this made you rethink your daily steps. We take so many of them with full confidence that we’ll make it home safe and sound. People of color don’t have that luxury. They’re tired, enraged, and have had enough.

We should be enraged too. Every one of us.

The next time you complain about protests, and riots, and burning buildings, stop to think—how would you feel if that were your son? Your daughter? Your husband? Your wife? Your father? Your brother? Do you have constant anxiety about their safety?

Do you have to train them on how to not get shot by the police? Do they fear authority figures because they may not survive the encounter? What would you do if they killed your son while he was begging to breathe?

Do you understand the helplessness millions feel every day—the rage and pain to know you most likely won’t get justice?

I can’t even name all the things that people of color, especially Black Americans, go through every day because I’m light-skinned enough to not be a threat. Others don’t have that luxury. No one should have to worry that the melanin in their skin automatically marks them as criminals. This is an outrage.

Let’s not stand by and do nothing. Let’s use our privilege wisely.

Show support to those who are being murdered. Demand justice and equal treatment. Demand the murders stop. Demand better training for our police officers. Demand that people of color have their basic human rights respected. Period.

The line has been drawn for a while now, on what side have you been?

“I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” ~ James Baldwin

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Watch Coco Gauff’s powerful video: Am I next?


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There are numerous ways to stay informed and take action that can help move the needle. Here are some anti-racist teachers, leaders, organizations, and resources you can learn from and support:

1. Ways you can help the Black Lives Matter movement.

2. Anti-racism resources for White people.

3. Guidelines for what people of color want from White allies.

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