Botham Jean died in his apartment. An off-duty police officer allegedly mistook his apartment for hers, let herself in, and killed him. Three days later she was arrested on a manslaughter charge. I’ve watched this story unfold on social media and in the news. I have my theories and suppositions but none of them matter. And although many say it has nothing to do with race, the incident and outcome thus far is very similar to many past incidents – an unarmed black male who was committing no crime was murdered by a non-black person. And because we’ll never hear the deceased’s version of events, we’ll never get the full story ;and for me and many others, it’s exhausting.
It’s become exhausting trying to explain to people what it’s like being black in the United States. What it’s like to feel like you have to justify your position, where you live, whether or not you had kids out of wedlock, and if you’re actually married to the person you live with. It’s exhausting worrying that your husband is going to be mistaken for a criminal when he takes the trash out at night or forgets his wallet when he takes your son to soccer practice. It’s exhausting to be told to forget about slavery but remember the Alamo, the Confederacy, and 9/11. It’s exhausting wondering if your child will be seen as more aggressive than his non-black peers because that happens in schools all across this country every day. It’s exhausting to constantly say that not only do you deserve a seat at the table but the table wouldn’t even be there without your ideas and hard work. It’s exhausting explaining your daughter’s kinky hair that’s short one day and long the next. It’s exhausting that she’s one of a handful of black kids on the 500 member swim team. It’s exhausting to get looks of surprise when you answer the door to your home in your predominately white neighborhood and people realize you aren’t the help. It’s exhausting when people finally meet you and are caught off guard because your name doesn’t ‘sound black’ via email and you don’t ‘sound black’ over the phone. It’s exhausting to be told that kneeling for a country’s national anthem is disrespectful when that country has spent years disrespecting you. It’s all just exhausting.
Listen, friends. We can all choose to remain in our own little corners of the world, hoping that the problems that are faced by people who look like me are going to go away. We can say that we’ve come a long way. We aren’t slaves anymore. We’ve had the same opportunities as everyone else. But all you have to do is Google ‘racial disparity’ and you’ll come across books, studies, movies, documentaries, etc. that say yes, we aren’t slaves like our ancestors but we’re still in bondage. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough. We’ve had some opportunities but not the same and not enough. I’m not making this up. This isn’t a pity party. There are facts and data to support the truth that racism does exist in this country and it is literally killing people. People that look like me. People that look like my daughter. People that look like my husband. People that look like my son. Some of it is at our own hands and that’s our problem to fix. But the ones that aren’t, what are you going to do about it?
Until next time…