by Rosa J. Nash, (10th grade, from Seattle, WA) –
“What can you do to support the BLM movement?” I see these kinds of posts over and over on Instagram. I have nothing against them, as they’re helpful and educational. However, you must stop and think, “Why in the world do we need this?” or, “This is common sense!” That’s what I thought. But the sad reality is that it’s not. I’m not even sure if there was a time where it ever was. It’s 2020, and people still have to say, “Listen to black voices!” What most of these people actually mean is, “Listen to black voices…but only in time of crisis or sometime in February.” When it’s not either of those times, black people are censored from discussing politics in a public setting. We have to seek out places and platforms where it’s “appropriate” and populated by other people of color. I find that extremely gross.
I shouldn’t have to die for you to listen to me. Droves of black men and women shouldn’t have to die for you to say, “Gee, maybe we should let the African American fellow have a word”, as you pass the mic down to him. While he’s speaking, he must tiptoe around the actual root cause of all of this bigotry, as to not offend the white people in the room. The people who actually want to listen and learn, do so, whilst the others take the mic from said “African American fellow” in order to facetiously apologize. It’s the same song and dance. I won’t blame you for what your ancestors may or may not have done to mine, but I will blame your parents if they have raised you so very unaware. Babies aren’t born with racist or ignorant ideals—it’s taught. I can say the same for every other race of people, as well, including my own.
Be honest—did you only start to take the movement seriously (if you do at all) when a non-black person/celebrity spoke out against it? This question is for everyone. It’s not necessarily a shameful thing (don’t worry, I won’t hunt you down), as it is something that should be called out and not normalized. I’ll pose another question—do you think to yourself, “Oh, shut up about race already” when a black person calls out someone’s racial bias in times that you deem “not appropriate”? While there is a time and a place for everything, gaslighting someone is never the answer. When I tell you to “hear us out”, I’m not telling you to pass the mic or “allow” me to speak only in February. I’m telling you, “I’ll speak out and against racism whenever. It shouldn’t be taboo and shouldn’t affect my future opportunities”. It’s not “obnoxious” nor “unwarranted”. If you get to teach slavery for the hundredth time, I damn sure am going to teach black history whenever I want.
I also would like to address another issue that ties into all of this: being colorblind is not progressive. I’ve gotten stink eyes (even from black people) for even uttering “white people” or “black people” during school presentations. It’s not “politically correct” to say African American—that’s a nationality. I’m black. I’ve no shame in being black. So, for you to undermine this with being “colorblind” or giving me a stink eye whenever I address myself as such, is rather… problematic (God, I hate that word). Not only is it censorship of free speech to only allow the “race card” to be pulled at certain times of the year, it’s also very dumb, and might eventually lead to the downfall of society. …OK, maybe that was a big dramatic, but hear me out: if parents openly discuss racism and oppression with their children, schools allow everyone to freely speak their minds on racism and oppression, and discussing politics becomes less of a taboo, then maybe you’ll actually.. learn? And maybe, and this is a bit of a stretch, but maybe America would be a better place for everyone.
To conclude, if you were to ask me, “What can I do to support the BLM movement?”, I would not only tell you to listen to black voices but listen to black voices all the time. Not just during an epidemic. Not just in February. But all the time. And if there are other minority groups who are also censored, then listen to them, too. If someone says some kind of slur, you should not censor them, either. Teach, teach, and teach some more because, obviously, they are only ignorant. Babies aren’t born with a KKK hood on, and it’s up to the people around them to raise them as a good human being. And once people are open to learn, they will. It’s never too late.
These are the three sources that motivate me the most:
-Black the Menace, Rapper, https://m.soundcloud.com/user-81379235/sets/graveyard-shift/s-GmnnFvFkf6I
-Noah_Nash_Art, Artist, https://instagram.com/noah_nash_art?igshid=180npgaulkqtb
-ACES Artists of Color Expo & Symposium, Event, http://www.seattlecenter.com/events/event-calendar/aces-artists-of-color-expo-and-symposium
About the author:
My name is Rosa J. Nash, although online I go by the name “Lady Ro”. I’m an artist (you can see my art on my Instagram @ladyrolovesyou), but most importantly I’m passionate about racial injustices in America and around the world. My dream is that I can convey a message through my works and through my art, and to portray the black experience to as wide an audience as possible.