Photo Credit: Latasha Kinnard/ Tay Jay | edited by Adedayo Fashanu.
In the past 12 months my brother has been harassed by police twice. Once with a gun pointed directly at his chest. He wonders why the color of his skin makes him a target when all he wants to do is play ball in his neighborhood.
My sister, she occasionally has nightmares. In her nightmares police officers are hunting down and killing innocent black people. Our family gets separated and that is when she wakes up. She wonders if her dreams have meaning.
A trail of black bodies lay in the memory of our consciousness causing trauma, stress, and anxiety. But instead of mustering up the empathy to say a simple, "I can't imagine how you must feel," many non-black millennials stay silent, make excuses, or undermine the reality of racism.
As I attempt to put words to paper in the wake of the Charleston Massacre at Emanuel A.M.E church, I find that the words don't come as easily as the tears? But I have to write anyway.
I don't have the luxury of silence. So even though the eloquent words that speak to my college education currently fail me, today, I am not looking for credibility through credentials. My goal is singular: to give insight to Millennials at large on how the rhetoric of color blindness and the consistent invisibility of black social justice issues fuels a deep racial chasm that will not be mended by ignoring race.
Today, I just need you to FEEL where I'm coming from instead of reaching for excuses or invalidating my life experience.
As Millennials champion the front lines of social media activism, Facebook and Twitter have become more than just a space to tell people about your day. For me, and many others I'm sure, social media is a place to learn about socio-political events, share thoughts, and engage ideas. In these spaces, it is becoming more and more difficult to deal with the noisy excuses, the apathetic silence, and the absence of empathy that abounds.
In the era of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Black Millennials are fed up with our counterparts who time and time again say that they do not see race. I will not tolerate such willful intellectual negligence. And to be quite honest, there is nothing in me that can understand it as benign ignorance. In the Black Lives Matter Movement and all social justice movements, silence is violence. And we are tired of hearing color blindness as an excuse for not having uncomfortable conversations.
I can understand how difficult it is to believe that an entire group of people are targeted, killed, and denied justice all because of skin color in the 21st century.
Blah. Blah. Blah. The truth is, I ACTUALLY CANNOT UNDERSTAND HOW YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND. But I find myself pretending that I do. I find myself engaging in conversations empathizing with white people when I am the one hurting, and they cannot return the favor. It is beyond baffling and this blatant refusal to acknowledge the role of race in America is not a credit to Millennials, even though many often wear it as a badge of honor. Be clear that your silence does not make you part of an imaginary post racial utopian society. it makes you complicit.
While I know that generalizations do not represent all individuals, it certainly creates a narrative. Let me tell you what I see.
Everyone can get involved in the Ice Bucket Challenge, but cannot mobilize around #blacklivesmatter
Everyone is in an uproar when a puppy is mistreated, but says that human beings should do as their told to avoid getting killed by the police.
Everyone shows concern for a young white man who kills 9 black people in a church, but kills a black man with a toy gun on site even though gun possession is legal.
These stories are just a small drop in the bucket that make me think that Millennials are not color blind, they just cannot be compelled to empathize with situations that call into question the privilege of whiteness.
And to be honest, I hate the term white privilege. To me, it implies that being treated like a human being is a privilege. And while I cannot accept that basic humanity is a privilege, I have a long list of names that prove this to be true.
I want to be clear that black people are not begging for acceptance or understanding. The point is to expose the hypocrisy and idiocy of color blindness in an era where people are being gunned down every other week. If you want to care, seek to understand rather than explain away. But if you do care, DON"T CARE! Just don't pretend like you cannot see what is going on because we are not accepting ignorance as an excuse.
And if you plan on saying anything other than, I feel you... just, don't. -Latasha Kinnard
Featuring the Millennial Voice of Latasha Kinnard gives us a black millennial generation perspective adding to the important conversation of the crucial civil rights times we are in. This docu-book project, "Art of Being Alive" is a collection of stories, interviews and voices exploring the meaning of life, especially dissecting matters of importance peculiar to our millennial generation.
Contribute your Voice or story by submitting your interview request form using this link