“I know you are asking today, ‘How long will it take?’ Somebody’s asking, ‘How long will prejudice blind the visions of men?’…
Dr. Martin Luther King, March 25, 1965
I was 7 years old with dreams of purple cows, catching tadpoles, and wondering when the bookmobile was coming. Oh, the innocence of a child. My brother and I had no worries of unacceptance or being questioned for our behavior, even in a mostly non- African American neighborhood.
Our goal was to make sure when Dad came home, our penmanship was neatly done, that we were cleaned up, and ready for dinner. I often wish that my grandsons would have the same carefree thought process and experience. In this America, I fear for my race, my brothers, uncles, and my grandsons.
Today is May 29, 2020. All week two words have kept me awake…How Long. No matter what I did, these two words had me all up in my feelings. Two words of hope, spoken in anticipation of a better day. The resounding drumbeat in my head …one beat…two beats…it echos two words…How Long.
How long will I have to fear for the life of the members of my family — not just the young Black males? Today, I fear for all of the members of my family who are African American that might be considered targets. She could be sleeping after a long day of work…BREONNA TAYLOR.
How long must I fear for the life of my nephews, grandsons, or even my brothers? How long do I have to hold my breath in hesitation, as I wonder if they made it home okay… any day? Age no longer matters…but the shell that encompasses them does.
How many years will I hope and pray my grandsons make wise decisions about where they go? How long must they fear leaving the house? How long must I fear, that if seen running, the possibility of being considered a suspect, even if they are at play is a reality? Are the other young people they associate with beyond suspicion? These days does it really matter ? Some might feel they are suspect, all because of the color of their skin. Are they wearing clothing that might make them a target because of the color of their skin?
How long do I kneel in prayer each time they go outside, praying they return in one piece…and breathing?
How long do I have to hope they are not misjudged by someone with an agenda of evil?
How long must my tears flow in the peace and calm of my garden on behalf of the Mothers that have lost their children senselessly? My heart breaks as one by one my race and my people are considered less than and expendable. It is as if the American jungle is having open season again, yet we were not warned.
How long must I hear my non African American counterparts say “It’s going to be ok?” or “I am so sorry”. Thank you, sincerely, but it’s not going to be ok, hasn’t been ok, and long overdue for us to still be feeling this pain. We are not ok. It hurts to the core of our community. The increasingly criminal actions of unacceptance are escalating in broad daylight. Can you imagine how it feels to be target practice?
You wonder why we might have a heightened awareness of frequent subtle actions or statements? Look around you, open your ears and listen to the cry of the African American community. We are in pain all because some do not value our presence on this earth. How long must we fake like everything is ok.
Why should we accept being spoken down to because someone feels threatened? How long must I try to NOT watch the news or listen to current events? We are being vilified, treated like we really do not matter or belong, and expected to accept it. How long is enough time to ignore the obvious?
HOW LONG MUST THE COLOR OF OUR SHELL BE THE DAILY LOAD WE BEAR?
How long must we be expected to be present to participate, only to be treated as if we are less than or that our opinion does not matter? How long before we can speak truth to our power and not be considered too sensitive or threat?
How long must I, a woman of color, a sister, a mother, an aunt, and a grandmother, wail from the depths of my soul, as I pray for the safety of my kinfolk?
How long? Not long,
Because the arc of the moral universe is long,
but it bends toward justice. Dr. Martin Luther King, March 25, 1965
How long does it take for Justice to arrive on the doorstep of the African American community?
How long before my grandsons possibly become the recipient of another person’s anger or fear? When I gaze into their eyes, I see hope, I see Love, I see young men growing up. When they were born, imagining the possibilities for my children and grandchildren brought joy to my heart. Now, I simply pray that they make it through another day …alive and breathing. I consciously dismiss thoughts of them being taken away from this earth too soon. It is, however, a scary reality that haunts my dreams. Sometimes I wonder if I should have a black dress ready, for the just in case. Sometimes…I stay awake, so I don’t dream.
How long must we hold our tongue and act like we are not in pain? How long must I mourn as I think about the pain African Americans seem to be the recipient of?
America, I ask the question why do you not care for the very people who are your caretakers? The ones who show up, get the work done and have a sense of pride in the work given to us. Are we perfect? No way, but neither is the rest of the world. We all make mistakes and some even LIVE to face the charges or at least answer to the charges we are accused of. Some can partake in taking lives and get arrested ALIVE. Others can be accused of something like fraud and can no longer breathe. Heaven forbid we step out and attempt to enjoy nature. Someone just might assume that is not something we should enjoy. The constant concern about enjoying nature in our own skin is real. If an accusation is made and believed, the outcome could be tragic.
As summer approaches I wonder how long will I wake up and fear for the news of the day. Normally I would anticipate what summer would look like and make plans. I am now worried that my freedom to be authentic in my skin will be considered a crime. So I pause to mourn…with no end date in sight.
I mourn GEORGE FLOYD, AMAUD ARBERY and countless others that have lost or will lose their lives unnecessarily. I am also concerned, worried about how many names will be added as we remain African American in America.
How long will the color of my skin allow my race be assumed guilty just because?
How long must I live this nightmare? Sometimes I simply wonder, do our lives matter?