It’s watching Black people being murdered by white cops time and time again.
It’s seeing Black women and children being kidnapped or murdered and their cases being neglected.
It’s being insulted sometimes by family members, friends & others with the first thing that always comes to mind “your nappy ass hair” or “your black ass”.
It’s informing non Black people why it’s not okay to use the N word. Because it’s degrading.
It’s being told that Black women cannot wear protective hairstyles (i.e. box braids) because it’s “ghetto” or “unprofessional”. But it’s okay for influencers or non Black people to wear it because it’s the current “trend”.
It’s reminding my brother that as the only Black man in most of his friend groups that if he’s ever in a situation he will most likely be blamed because he is Black. So he needs to be cautious.
It’s calling out people who love to take from Black culture but can’t even do the simplest of things by just LOVING the Black community.
It’s my sister having anxiety/panic attacks whenever there are cops around.
It’s my mom, who is fair- light skinned, worrying about my brother each time he goes out.
It’s me going going out of my way to show how unthreatening I am by smiling at strangers.
It’s holding onto my brother when we walk through out stores to avoid a possible conflict.
It’s my political science professor picking apart my book report about The Solution by Jay Morrison. Telling me a young black female in America that my agreements that black people do deserve reparations and a seat at the table are wrong. But guess what? He is a former Oklahoma republican representative. He could never understand.
It’s being told that our experiences with racism isn’t real because they’ve never experienced it. Telling us how we should handle or react to these experiences.
It’s being told that we need to get over the pain and trauma our community has been living through for YEARS. 400 years of being oppressed.
It’s being told that we shouldn’t riot because of damage cost. What was the Boston Tea Party about then??
It’s being told that we should “protest peacefully”. But they criticized when Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Kenny Stills and many more athletes were kneeling in stance of police brutality.
It’s watching white people armed with guns marching to state capital’s and blocking roads because they feel “oppressed” because they can’t get massages and haircuts.
It’s my second grade teacher not wanting her granddaughters befriending me because she’s racist and doesn’t like me solely based on my skin.
It’s my dear friend who is a (white) English teacher asking me, “Nessa how do I teach Black history month without it being whitewashed?” “How can I be an ally and teach my kids that I am a safe place for them?”
It’s constantly being asked how I feel about Rodney King, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner and many more but if I was white there would be no questions.
It’s scouting out potential living areas and asking potential roommates if they have any concerns about living with a Black roommate.
It’s black women dying in hospitals because of the stereotypes of how “strong” black women and their concerns being disregarded by medical professionals.
It’s being told well “what about black on black crimes?” But we’re talking about people of authority killing Black people.
It’s watching the news and observing the difference in how the Police handle unarmed Black people compared to how the police handle white mass killers.
It’s being told “we have to work twice as hard to get half the reward” compared to a white person.
It’s being told “you’re well spoken for a black person”
It’s trying to instill love in black children, teaching them to embrace their beautiful skin in a world dead set against them.
It’s my brother being called a N***** by his “teammates” because he has well-rounded athletic capabilities. In fact, one of those very teammates was drafted a month ago.
It’s my mom not knowing if my black siblings and I will make it home safely each and every night.
It’s me not wanting to bring children into this world because it is cruel to them.
It’s me watching my nephews growing up and wondering how my sister will explain to them how this world treats Black people.
It’s me wanting to contribute to change by studying Political Science to be educated but also to educate. To know what rights we have.
It’s being told “as long as laws aren’t broken.” But wait, what about Jim Crow Laws?? Just because they’re legal doesn’t mean they’re morally right.
It’s being afraid every time I step out of the house because you never know which white person will come after you.
It’s about having your history so whitewashed that you don’t hear or learn about Juneteenth, The Tulsa Race Massacre, The Rosewood Massacre, and The 1985 Philadelphia Bombing until you are out of school.
It’s watching white people live in their ignorance and all that their white privilege entails. Claiming America is their land.
But America is not in fact their land.
America was build on the blood of Native Americans on the backs of Enslaved Africans.
So what does it mean to be Black in America?
I am Black first before anything else and that is a lesson that I wished I learned earlier in life. I wished my mom would have instilled my black culture and heritage just as much she did my Sāmoan culture. Because I can swear up and down how Sāmoan I am, it means nothing because I am Black first. That is what the world sees.
It means that my siblings I live with the reality that we can be killed at anytime and it won’t matter. It means that each and every time we leave the house we do so in the hopes we can come home safely. It’s trying to convince others that our lives matter just as much as a white persons.
Its going out of our way to make people hear us with extreme lengths because we don’t have the same opportunities to do so in a quiet manner so to speak.
I was born and raised in Hawaii by my Sāmoan mom and her family. I was taught my Sāmoan culture and what it means to embrace it. I can tell you my grandfather Tiueni was from the village of Malaela and my grandmother Epenesa is from the village of Vaimoso. I can tell you my family has a history of having a hand in the Polynesian Culture Center in Laie, Hawaii. Put me on a stage and I can wow you with my smile and graceful movements as I preform a sivā or a hula.
But at the end of the day none of the matters. My 3.67 gpa won’t matter. My clean background won’t matter. My Sāmoan genealogy won’t matter. My contagious laugh, my nice smile and friendly personally won’t matter because to the world I am black.
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