Why did it take you so long to recognize something is wrong? What took you so long to realize we matter? Did you need a hashtag to trend to go to the streets? Did you need to see our bodies blooded and breathless to go to protest? Did you need to see him die over and over again to realize that it was wrong? Did it take us going to the streets and destroying the perfect picture of racial harmony you built to recognize something’s wrong?
Does my skin tone hurt? Does it make you afraid for your life? Does it diminish your color? Does my existence diminish your existence? Does it threaten the idea of your supremacy? Do you need me to disappear? Do you need me to apologize for existing? Did you ever laugh at a racist comment? Have you ever used racial slurs? Have you used your privilege against a person of color? Do you know the hurt that is caused every time you tell a black joke?
Do you know what it’s like to be held against you will? Do you know how it feels to have your skin color be your confession to a crime that didn’t take place? Do you know that I bleached for years so I could be like you? Do you know what it takes to be surrounded by ignorance and hate every day? Do you know what it feels to hate what you were born with? Do you know what it feels like to be surrounded by cops, knowing that soon you might be taken away? Do you know what it’s like to work in a sector where you are told that your life is less valuable than a white person?
Do you know what it feels like having to keep track of your brothers and father every day just to check they are ok? To monitor their movements and anger? To provide and protect for the man in your family because the system failed them? Do you want what it takes to hold yourself back when a group of white guys pushes your mum out of a bus? Do you know what it takes for your mum to tell you she was abused while shopping with the babies? Do you know the anger that bubbles when a group of white men drive by and yell ‘black bitch’, ‘hope you get hit by a car, fucking nigger’? Do you know what it feels like to work in an environment where you have to monitor how you look, walk, talk, and dress? Work in spaces where you have to diminish your light? Do you know what it feels like to never trust the police? Do you know what it feels like to go through an education system that was built to destroy you? Do you know what it feels like to learn the English language just to share your observations and be silenced for sharing your observations?
Do you know how it feels to be called every racial slur, face micro-aggressions, and still be told to ‘stop overreacting’, ‘its probably a joke’, ‘don’t be so sensitive’? Have you ever explained a 4year why his teacher called him ‘black’ when he said he was ‘British’? Have you ever explained the word ‘nigger’ to children? Have you ever prepared babies for the day they get stopped and search? Have you explained to them why they will be stopped and search? Have you been fetishized and dehumanized? Have you been labeled as ‘loud’, ‘aggressive, and ‘angry’ for demanding equality? Do you know what it feels like to be raised to ‘work twice as hard for half of what they get’? Do you what it feels like to be gaslighted every day of your life? Do you know what it feels like to be kicked out of stores, be followed and people assume you don’t belong? Can you imagine waking up every morning preparing yourself for the hate that will come your way and repeating every day till you join the Prophets (swt)? Do you know what it feels like to watch one of your own get killed over and over again, and feel a piece of you die too? Do you know that we accepted that we may not matter? Do you even care?
We did it your way. We learned your way of protesting, acting, speaking, dressing but nothing changed for us. We changed ourselves to the point where we aren’t who we were once. We did it all as you asked us too. Yet, we die as we always have. With your knees on our necks while you watch and laugh.
Taking to the streets won’t change our situation but you won’t ignore us anymore.
By Yasmin Maydhane