Disclaimer: Let me start by saying that this article is not intended to offend or hurt anyone. But my intentions are to shake some things up…to step on some toes…to punch you in your gut…in your consciousness and to shift and wake up some folks. Most of you see me as gentle, loving and kind. I still am…but at times…I will become a force and voice for change. This writing is one of those times. I will be blunt, direct and perhaps a little harsh. But brutally honest. I truly believe these things need to be said. They have been said by others in other ways…and they will continue to be said until things change.
I grew up in a southern city, Columbia, SC. I remember as a little girl hearing my mom have the talk with my brothers. She would say things like, never run from the police, keep your hand out of your pockets, keep your ID on you. I also remember, my mom telling me as I started to drive to stay away from Forest Acres and West Columbia after dark. She said it was the clan territory.
Black and Brown folks live through our own epidemic and pandemic every single day of our lives. Except our deadly virus is RACISM! It spreads so quickly and if it doesn’t physically kill us, it slowly kills us emotionally. And for some reason we haven’t found a vaccine.Angela Carr Patterson
As I became a mother of two sons, I remember having the same talk with them. I also told them to make sure when they went in a store to hurry and purchase what they went in the store to get. Because browsing simply was not a luxury for them.
Now that my children are adults, they are now having the same talks with their children. Except now, they have to warn them about walking or jogging through a neighborhood, or be aware when you are having a cookout in the park, or sitting in StarBucks, or yes…simply sitting in your house watching TV.
Every last one of us black folks have to take a deep breath when we are driving. Because we know that one simple innocent traffic stop of DWB (driving while black) could literally end in our death.
Now those of you who don’t share my same skin color, there’s a little voice in your head that will try to tell you that I am exaggerating. But deep within you…you know that I am not.
Everyday we leave home could be our last day just because of our skin color. And we can’t wear a mask to protect us. I remember hearing stories from my grandmother about how black folks couldn’t walk down the street without being stopped. Or they couldn’t gather in groups of 2 or more because they could get locked up for loitering.
Black and Brown folks live through our own epidemic and pandemic every single day of our lives. Except our deadly virus is RACISM! It spreads so quickly and if it doesn’t physically kill us, it slowly kills us emotionally. And for some reason we haven’t found a vaccine.
And to add insult to our wounds, we are accused of playing the “Race Card” when tragedy hits us and our communities for simply walking, jogging or driving. What the hell do you call it then if it isn’t RACISM?
Do you have any idea what it feels like to walk in a store with more money in your bank account than the store manager and get followed around like you’re about to rob the joint? Do you know what it feels like to be in a line and not recognized and watch someone else get pulled to the front? And you have to struggle whether or not to say anything because if you do, it could cost you your very life?
Do you know what it feels like walk around daily and be told by groups of people to go back to Africa…when we didn’t ask to come here in the first place?
Do you know what it feels like when even your best intentions are considered suspicious because you are not seen as human…or equal…you are seen as subhuman.
Now, we here in America have to sit and listen to a President who we KNOW hates us. How do we know? He demonstrates it to us daily.
Then to have so called “good white folks” tell us that he’s not racist. Like my mom used to say, “Don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s raining.” Because that’s exactly what it feels like when you defend this man to us. You need to know that’s how we feel EVERY time you defend him to us. It becomes difficult to hear you say you love us and you are okay with how this man treats us.
Now I want to say this. We black and brown folks are some of the most brilliant people in the world. In spite of all the odds against us…we still find ways to succeed, to laugh, to win, to live, and to love. We walk tall with our shoulders squared, even when we’ve been beat down on every corner.
We have learned how to code switch and to pivot when we are in your presence because we recognize that our brilliance would BLIND you if we really showed you who we are.
You see, we’ve learned how to live in a pandemic…called RACISM…a deadly disease that spread quickly…kills and destroys our communities daily.
But here’s the secret that you don’t know. The tides will eventually turn. We will rise to the top. And that disease…that Pandemic will eat at the host like a virus that destroys the body.
When you are a racist… or you condone it…you don’t get away with it. You will come face to face with what you have done and you will feel the pain of what you have caused others. It’s called Karma.
It never fails…I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Because we believe you reap what you sow.
So the next time you raise your confederate flag, your MAGA hats and your 2nd Amendment signs…I want you to remember this…
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
We don’t want your pity…because we are proud people. We don’t want your money because we know how to make our own money…and stretch it to feed our entire community.
We don’t want your respect…because we don’t need it. What we want…what we really want is for YOU to recognize that you are living among some of the most powerful, amazing, strong, courageous, resilient and brilliant people in the land.
Oops…but you already know this…this is the truth you know and the truth you fear.