In light of recent events, as a black business owner, I felt it necessary to address this growing concern in our country (USA). As a business owner who services people of different colors and races, I was unsure on how to broach this topic. I knew it had to be done, but I wanted to do it in an informative and tasteful way. I am in no way against white people, I am speaking on an issue with which I have had experiences with, had to remove our kids from a school system (Lee County GA) because our complaints of racism were falling on deaf ears. Yes I am blowing up spots! So let me explain. Keep reading (to the end).
I grew up in the Bronx with a very Jamaican family & Black American Family. In NY, it wasn't uncommon for me to have kids in my class from all over the globe. I found it easy to relate to anyone because of this exposure. When I left this massive melting pot of cultures, races, and religions, I found a not so accepting USA. Now I wan't totally oblivious to racism, but it wasn't something that I fed into nor experienced all the time.
Fast forward to life now. I am a military wife and we have lived in North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, and Georgia. This is when the racist experiences became very blatant and real. Storytime! Whilst living on a base in base housing, I took my then toddler and elementary school aged sons to the park to meet some other kids. During this time, there were three white families with kids both boys and girls their ages. Feeling excited to meet some people, we approached the park. I put on the nicest smile I had, one that said "HI, I'm friendly and looking for play dates for my kids". As soon as we got to the park and my kids started to play, the white wives swiftly grabbed their kids like we had AIDS and practically ran out of the park. One even left her kids shoe! My kids were totally oblivious and had a great time, meanwhile I was so hurt I was shaking.
Now I could go on, and on about these experiences but they were not just limited to white people. Sorry Arizona, but yet again I had another racist experience but this time with a Mexican Walmart worker. Again, Storytime! I'm a stay at home mom, so I like to get my grocery shopping done early in the morning after school drop off. This day I only grabbed a few items (literally had 2 grocery bags). I watched as white patrons left with extremely full carts without being stopped and proceeded to do the same. The Walmart worker stopped me and asked me for my receipt AND to search my bags. When I inquired why (especially since I was at self checkout literally 25 of my tiny feet from her) she exclaimed this is normal procedure. When I explained I observed she didn't do that to anyone else, she said she has the right to stop whomever she wants. Now other customers are walking around me without being searched, looking at me with judgmental eyes, and I instantly felt anger rising inside of my body. I decided I wouldn't cause a scene, went into my car and cried. Then I called the store and spoke to the manager explaining my ordeal. The manager was horrified and said she was removing her from the door. Did I take myself back to see if this was true, I sure did. And she was removed.
So what do my stories have to do with the black lives matter vs. the all lives matter movement? My stories show how people of color are judged before we even speak. My stories are mild compared to Ahmaud Arbery, or Trayvon Martin (google them, and the list goes on). But my stories I never will forget because of the pain and anger it caused. I watched a fedex driver crying in his truck after almost being hit and spat on by a white driver just because he was black. This is one of the reasons for the BLM movement, to stop all of this so our kids can grow up in peace.
The all lives matter movement didn't come about until AFTER the black lives matter movement was trending. People of color in this country from all over the world come to this huge melting pot for a chance at a better life. They get mistreated, harassed, and even killed for a piece of the american dream. I often hear white people say why don't you go back home? My response to that is we will after you do.
Wow! How can she say that? We all know the facts that this land doesn't belong to anybody white, it belongs to the Native Americans. So technically we all are trespassing. Now back to BLM vs. ALM. One can't use the statement all lives matter until they believe black lives matter. This movement wasn't set up to say other races don't matter, it was set up to shed light to the injustices done to people of color in this country FOREVER. We want the killing to stop. And guess what? So do white people, and people all over the world. Why do they care? Because no one should have to worry about living through a traffic stop during a global pandemic.
But it was the black guy/girls fault. Everyone is entitled to due process, murder by cop is not due process. Time and time again we have seen, heard first hand stories about the racist interactions people of color have had. I've been called a Nigger, my children have been called Niggers on their school bus (Leesburg, GA) , and this isn't something new. This is an ongoing issue that never went away and won't go away until the ALM movement recognizes that black lives are apart of that. And we have hard conversations, teach our kids to respect other people regardless of their skin color. I have great friends who are white and I watch as their children see my children as just another kid. They don't care that my kids are black, because their parents teach them to be kind to EVERYONE. My children don't see color because we teach them to respect all people and get to know someone before you write them off.
OK, Ok, rant done. I hope this brings awareness, and understanding to the divide in our country. I hope someone from the ALM movement understands why BLM too. I want my children to be able to walk freely without the fear of death from a cop, the same people we pay to protect us. All cops aren't bad, but a few bad apples can ruin the bunch. There has been a divide caused in minority communities because of their policing tactics. DO I have the answer? Absolutely not. But I do know that respect can go a long way and not judging a book by its cover can open up a world of amazement and wonder just by giving something a chance. The simplest rule I learned as a kid, which I teach to my kids is this: "Treat others the way you want to be treated". And you know what, that actually works.