By Jennifer Ramsay
I’m so tired.
I’m tired of the looks.
I’m tired of the unnecessary wide berth on the street.
I’m tired of “Let’s wait for the facts…”
I’m tired of “Despite making up 13 percent…”
I’m tired of “Well maybe if they had listened…”
I’m tired of saying, “They did.”
I’m tired of being called a thug.
I’m tired of “You’re one of the good ones.”
I’m tired of “You people…”
I’m tired of “ALL lives matter.”
I’m tired of “Blue Lives Matter too!”
I’m tired of “Not all cops.”
I’m tired of being nice.
I’m tired of nothing. Ever. Changing.
Yes, all lives matter, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.
Yes, Blue lives matter but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.
Yes, not all cops. But this one, and this one, and that one, and this one, and this one and…
I’m tired of worrying about my brother.
He’s 15, 16 in July. He’s almost six feet tall and still growing. He likes loud music, rap music, and trap music. He likes to play basketball with his friends. He’s the most extroverted member of the family. He’ll make friends with anyone, and he spends hours with his friends on FaceTime. He likes to grow out his hair. His name is Joel. We call him Jojo.
He’s also a star student. He can multiply large numbers in his head in 5 seconds or less. He wants to be a mechanical engineer. In the fall, he’ll start 11th grade. He takes AP and dual enrolls. He’s afraid to try out for the basketball team, even though he’s good.
He’s also a great younger brother. He doesn’t like to eat cake, but stomachs it every time we get it. He kills all the bugs in the house, even if he’s gaming, eating, or sleeping. He drives without us asking him to, even if he doesn’t really want to. He lifts heavy things before my mom can even bend down. He’ll watch “girly” shows with his sisters because we asked him to.
He doesn’t understand why my mom gets worried when he goes running at night. He doesn’t understand why he can’t go to the neighborhood over and play basketball with a group of guys. He doesn’t understand when my mom says he has to take off his hood. I don't think he sees the stares.
He doesn’t understand yet that for many people, he’s not a 15 year old boy. He’s a strange African-American man. Even in the neighborhood he lives in, let alone one he doesn’t. He doesn’t understand yet that he will always ‘match the description.” He doesn’t understand yet that he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt, even if he’s just reaching for his wallet. We haven’t had The Talk with him yet, but it’s coming (Hint: It’s not about the birds and the bees).
I’m tired of people telling me racism doesn’t exist. It does. I’ve experienced it. I’ve witnessed it.
I’m tired of people saying they don’t see color. You need to start, because it can provide a LOT of context. Color plays a big factor in why a man who wasn’t resisting was held down and a knee was pushed into his neck until he died, despite yelling he couldn’t breathe, and having it dug deeper when he said so by a bully. Color also plays a big factor in why a cop with so many complaints against him was even still on the streets.
But not all cops. Why do I have to qualify everything with “...but not all cops” when no one ever says, “but not all black people?” Why is everyone talking about a group who took advantage of the situation, and not what created the situation in the first place? Why are civilized people “acting like animals?” Why are they so desperate for change that they’ve resorted to this? Why is no one saying “well not all the protestors.”
I’m tired of the stares I get walking into a shop on the square without my friends.
Is it what I’m wearing? Nope, stares no matter the outfit.
Is it my crazy Gen-Z millennial snowflake hair? Nope, my hair is normal.
Is it because I’m alone? Nope, plenty of people in here alone, and not even a second glance.
Is it my age? Nope, I see some young people in here too.
Is it because I’m a woman? Nope, I see a lot of women in here.
Is it because I just walked in? Nope, there are people right behind me and no one even noticed them.
Is there something on my face? My clothes? Nope, all clear.
Do we know each other? Nope, that’s not a “I know you from somewhere” look...
I wonder what it could possibly be, because they’re staring AWFULLY hard.
So, before you post your rant on Facebook about “those people” acting like animals, or falsely comparing protests, or willfully ignoring context, please think about the people who are directly being affected. If you go through with it, please listen to the people who disagree and why.
I’m tired of arguing with people who dismiss my experiences, but I’m always happy to explain my view to someone willing to listen.
By Jennifer Ramsay