Stephen Jackson speaking to the media about the George Floyd shooting

Being Black Means Being Loud.

Being black means good parents are going to be overprotective.

Being black is knowing that a simple misunderstanding can be the end of your life.

Being black means you don’t get to just have parties without being harassed.

Being black is living in a state that sees you as less important than others.

Being black is having a conversation with your parents that people will see you as a threat.

Being black is knowing you don’t have any warnings coming your way when you make a mistake.

Being black is not having the police watch out for you but having to watch out for the police.

Being black is being able to enjoy any situation as long as we’re together.

Being black is a head nod to another guy you don’t know and don’t need to conversate with

Being black means the worlds idea of what’s cool or trendy comes from you.

Being black is beautiful.

I was blind to how serious things could get with racial injustice until 2012 when I was 15 and Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman.  I had a blissful ignorance of the reality of the situation. When you’re just becoming a teenager, you really just assume people do the right thing in most situations. Then when the verdict came out and he was found innocent I saw something I’d never seen before. I was at a friend’s house and when they announced it, his mom literally started crying. I’m not sure but I think when you’re younger you don’t fully grasp what it is to be empathetic but for the first time, I felt it. I was sad for this boy’s mama the same way I would be for someone I knew.

My high school wanted to do something in response. So we stage a class walkout and try to walk out of the building and a riot started and it I thought to myself “this isn’t supposed to be fun, why am I having fun.” I asked my grandfather who I rarely if ever have asked about protesting and what they went through during the civil rights movement if I should feel guilty. He told me “Getting your freedom is always going to be fun, might as well let yourself enjoy it.” 

Now after countless other unjustified deaths, mistreatments and even flat out murder we found ourselves in the biggest protest in the United States in the last 20 years. People are being beaten, tazed and pepper sprayed. Others are being shot with rubber bullets and hit with tear gas. People from both political parties are condemning the act of looting. While I may not totally agree with looting, these people have reached their boiling point. The years of peaceful protesting and progress not being made fast enough has caused the black community to lash out, yes! There will be people that take advantage of an already bad situation, that’s what comes with this. Don’t judge our reactions judge the people we’re reacting to.

As an adult, I’ve never felt more conflicted on a subject because my mother raised me to always try and treat people how I want to be treated and be as thoughtful as you can be. It does hurt me to know that some businesses have been causalities to this outrage. I see the negatives down the road that come from these types of things, including more tension between the police. However, what do you expect from people when you make them feel like their less than? Made to feel like what happens to them won’t be taken as seriously? How can you expect them to feel for your material items when every day it feels like we could be a stain on the street over a joint of weed and a cop having a bad day.

I’ve seen the “Riots are the voice of the voiceless.” quote on the internet all weekend and it resonated with me. Not as a justification but because it lets me know this has happened before and that we can be just as strong as our leaders back then, we still won’t just take injustice, we still won’t just go along, we still won’t ever be quiet.