The Right To Be Proud
Have you ever been proud of who you are? Your response may vary based on your race, gender, sex, or class. Historically, the right to be proud of who you are has only been awarded to a handful of people. Anyone outside of that circle caught loving themselves could have paid a hefty price to do so!
It is no mistake that due to the history of this country, anti-blackness is casually woven into our society as social norms. It has become normal to assume that our inner-cities are full of “ghetto” people instead of working people, and that our black youth are dangerous criminals instead of normal kids. During a speech in 1996 New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton called black youth “super predators” with no conscience and no empathy while referencing the crime bill of 1994. “We can talk about why they ended up that way”, she says. “But first, we have to bring them to heel.” This is a covert way to say, “Let’s use the full force of the law to bring black youth into submission”. Harsh, isn’t it? Throw them in jail first, ask questions later.
I guess Treyvon Martin would also be carelessly thrown into this category of “super predators.” Walking alone at night with a pack of Skittles and an Arizona ice tea is a sure sign of criminal activity, right? Of course not! It is proven time and time again that we both directly and indirectly suffer because of the color of our skin; whether this comes in the form of low pay and unstable jobs, underfunded education, poverty or unjustified police murders. These racist views begin with the American elite. The media eats it up like a Sunday dinner, and before you know it, these biases come trickling on down into our personal lives. In turn, some of us have learned to suppress our culture and views as a defense mechanism, so as not to come off “too black”. Being too black could be controversial during job interviews, in the workplace, or even amongst other black people. The lies on behalf of the elite and the media have played an enormous role in how we feel about ourselves. But, then came resistance.
The gut wrenching, yet inspiring image published to the cover of Time Magazine in 2015 of protesters running from police officers in full riot gear sparked widespread attention to the new era of a black movement that would sweep across the country. The Ferguson uprisings taught us solidarity. The Black Lives Matter movement taught us unity. Mothers fearlessly brought their young children and babies to militant and organized marches. They held signs that said, “Stop Police Brutality”, and “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”. This shows trust in the people and a belief in the movement. This system has taught usto see one another as family, as we all have been victimized by a system that doesn’t care about us. But, this pattern isn’t new to us, is it? The oppression of our people has consistently brought us together throughout the years.
The severe oppression of our people birthed the black power movement of the 1960’s. That black power movement brought us the Black Panther Party for self defense. The BPP then went on to provide the community with various forms of healthcare, education and a breakfast program that would go on to feed thousands of young children in America. The organization wanted us to know that black was beautiful! They proudly chanted this through the streets and people inherited the message. People of color have always found beauty through resistance! History teaches us there is always a rainbow after the storm, and the outcome of this storm remains the same. Over the past few years, a wave of self love has washed over many young people of color. We are all beginning to understand who it was that told us these lies, and profited from them. That our hair and skin were ugly; that our bodies were barbaric. Those stigmas placed upon us are once again proving to be too fragile to withstand the power of black unity. This is showing through people of color forming grassroots organizations across the nation, creating safe spaces for people of color. These groups are multiplying by the day in response to the current political climate. These all show signs of self love, a love for our community and a great respect for the movement for the advancement of all people of color in this country.
Beaten but not broken, my people and I have every reason to be proud of who we are, and what we are becoming. I am sending solidarity and encouragement. Continue to be fierce, to love yourself and those around you. It was this, that brought us to where we are today. When we are proud, it shows those that come after us to be unafraid and unapologetic. To speak up for what is right, challenging the status quo while educating our peers in the process. Brothers and sisters, I am proud of you, and you should be too. We’ve earned it.