You can’t turn this off: I’m Black and I’m proud
Audio Version: https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-yaz8s-e11b89
Every morning, I wake up, look at all my flaws and imperfections and decide to love me. To love who God created me to be, and then I go out into the world. Whether it be at work, on social media, or in a conversation I am told otherwise. I am told that I do not matter, my kings don’t matter, that I am too much energy, that I am not good enough, I am seen as other, I am seen as a black woman, and in this world that will never change, I can never turn off the color of my skin, my first impression will always be that of a black woman. Even though the worlds perception of me is inferior, I remember the saying my mom taught me so many years ago; I’m black and I’m proud and I can say it loud. I am so thankful to my mom for instilling this into me at a very young age. I remember car rides, crossing the bridge to come to school, and my mom and I singing it loud. My mom saying it louder, and louder, and if you know my mom… louder. I can feel my little five-year-old shoulders moving to the life changing phrase with every loud, I felt proud. I felt proud of who I was, I felt proud of who she was, and my self-esteem grew, and, in that moment, I only wanted to be black and proud.
Today, I find myself saying it more and more but, quieter and quieter based on the challenges of everyday struggles. I wonder if I could just turn it off for today, what would it feel like. Would I still fight for the injustice of my students, would I still have to advocate for my sons to get the education they deserve, would I still see people of color and wave or give them the nod, would I still acknowledge the systemic struggles of people of color, would I still have to go to work early, and leave late so I could get my family ahead, would I still have to worry if I would see my family together again, would I still look at myself in the mirror and say today you are strong, courageous, beautiful, and proud, and nobody can take that away from you. If I could turn this off today, would I even have to think about any of this?
This is what it means to be privileged, privileged to wake up everyday and choose to not fight for injustice, no worry of seeing your people being brutalized, go to work and feel like you are helping those less fortunate (reality check: we don’t need your help), to be able to walk into a store and not be followed because of the color of your skin, to be able to wear spaghetti straps and flip flops to work and not be judged (okay, maybe I went too far there, that’s just not professional). Privilege means you have the pleasure or luxury to look in the mirror and not have a mantra to get you through the day. The power to choose to acknowledge injustice, the opportunity to sit quietly in a professional development about equity, and not lean into discomfort, to turn off the television or social media when you have heard enough about police brutality, to not march in the streets and shout for “no justice, no peace,” to not discuss harsh realities of the world, or to say, “I have a black friend.” Why would I want to turn this off? I must strengthen my voice, no more whispering, I’m screaming it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.