I know I said I would try my best to keep this blog a place where people could escape from politics, and essentially, get away from negativity. But at some point, my silence is complicity, and that is something for which I will not stand.
You may recall last July, when I finally broke my silence after Alton Sterling was murdered in Baton Rouge. It was a week of frustration and heartbreak, and I was at the end of my rope. I saw so much victim-blaming and I was ready to stand on my roof and yell “F the police!”
Here’s a snippet from the post:
I woke up nearly two hours before my alarm on Tuesday, and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I started scrolling through my Twitter feed. I saw the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag had gained popularity and I knew it: another innocent black man had lost his life to the bullet of a police officer.
And sure enough, that was the case for Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We’ve all heard his story by now, I’m sure. Soon, most of us will be able to sweep him under the rug just as we’ve done before; just like we did for Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rumain Brisbon, Jerame Reid, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray, among several others.
As white people, we’re granted the ability to forget about incidents such as these, because we don’t understand the struggle blacks have continued to go through. Introducing white privilege: White privilege is the systemic construct that grants unearned advantages to people based solely on skin color. This definition is significant in that often people see how race puts people of color at a disadvantage, but seldom see the corollary of white skin advantage.
Read the entire post here.
Last Tuesday night, I had a similar, frustrated feeling when I saw the news that there would be no charges against the Baton Rouge police officers who murdered Mr. Sterling, even after the US Department of Justice completed an independent investigation. It was the first case under Jeff Sessions, who airs his racial prejudices openly.
Days after the decision to not press charges, chilling details emerged about the 90-second exchange between Mr. Sterling and two police officers (along with six bullets). “A law enforcement source confirmed that Salamoni calls Sterling both a ‘bitch’ and a ‘motherf*****’ while threatening to “shoot” him in the head if he doesn’t comply” (source).
The reactions to drop charges in Baton Rouge had mixed reactions online, where I saw several activists even saying they “weren’t surprised” this was the outcome. That broke my heart. Many people said Mr. Sterling deserved to die because he had prior charges, and/or because he wasn’t permitted to carry the handgun he had in his pocket. But none of that justifies his death, and it doesn’t answer the bigger problem: institutional racism.
That same week last July, America watched live as Philando Castile, a black man, was murdered by a white police officer. Castile was stopped for having a broken tail light. The officer asked Castile to show him his license and registration, and Castile told the officer he was armed (please note that Castile did have a permit to carry a gun). Then he died – and it was all aired on Facebook Live (source).
In February, his murderer plead not guilty to second-degree manslaughter. The trial date is set for May 30.
About a week ago, the country learned that Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black teen was shot and killed by a white police officer. The police officer has since been arrested for Edwards’ murder (source).
The narrative surrounding Edwards was mostly about how great he was – how he made the honor roll. And while that’s fantastic, and sad, it shouldn’t matter what kind of person he was or the grades he made for his life to matter. He was riding in a car, leaving a party – neither of which are illegal, and they’re certainly worthy of getting murdered.
But this is the narrative that works to uphold institutional racism. With Trayvon, they said he wasn’t that great of a student – he smoked weed – he stole things; with Alton, they said he had past charges and was convicted of molestation; comply, don’t die, they say.
But what does the narrative become when you comply? What does it become when you make straight A’s? When you’re sober? When you’re wearing a seatbelt in the backseat of a car?
It’s about being black in America.
I spent a portion of my workday yesterday at the Texas Capitol, taking pictures of women dressed as Handmaids to draw attention to the 30+ anti-abortion bills that have worked themselves into the legislation session this year.
Since I started my job in January – I work as the Digital Communications Manager for a national abortion clinic – I’ve learned a lot about how the government has set itself up against women. Frankly, unless you’re a white male, you’re pretty much doomed to fail in this country.
As far as abortion goes, the anti-choicers have created a narrative that shames women into thinking abortion is immoral, among other things. The narrative uses false stories and urban legends to support their case – a case that is medically inaccurate. There will never be a time when abortion is gone – it will just be illegal, and unsafe.
Since the AHCA passed, I took a look at what it outlines – and it says that rape is considered a pre-existing condition, on top of having a c-section, and having irregular periods.
So, if you’re a woman, you don’t qualify for insurance. And if you’ve been raped, you’ll either have to shame yourself into not saying anything so you can get coverage, or say something and pay out-of-pocket for your medical care.
I know that this one blog post may not make a change, but I was so upset by politics, and the world, last week that I couldn’t continue on without saying something. Because if you just stand by while all of this continues, you’re part of the problem.
But, since I had training on dialogue about institutional racism, and since I’ve started working in abortion care, I have learned just how much change I can make with my voice. Talking creates noise. When I share my opinions with others, I am letting them know what I believe and what I stand for. Even just introducing myself and saying I work in abortion is enough to spark a conversation and let someone know where I stand, and what I’m not willing to tolerate.
So, I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again: Black lives still matter, and Women’s Rights are Human Rights.