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No Apologies.


At almost every turn black people are overlooked or scoffed at for pointing out or addressing the racial injustice that exists within their community or something that is more of a national problem. Yet, no matter how hard we work, no matter how much wealth we accumulate, no matter how talented we are, we are denied equality.

Adding to the stress of not only experiencing or knowing a major problem exists, there is the issue of dealing with those who refuse to listen or refuse to acknowledge these problems, adding an extra level of stress and frustration.

Just being born in America with black skin or having familial ties to black heritage is enough to be deemed second-class by society, which attracts an innumerable amount of interactions, experiences and outcomes that many others may never know.

But when these problems of white supremacy, racism, discrimination, cultural appropriation, micro aggressions, wage gaps, police brutality, underfunded schools, overfunded law enforcement, school-to-prison pipeline, the prison-industrial complex or even fair employment practices, black people are too often told to “stop complaining” by people who are members of a demographic who usually have no experience in experiencing these issues.

In situations where these inconsiderate conversations may include a person of another minority group, it increases the level of frustration because there is an awareness of that individual who knows these problems exist in a negative manner, but have chosen to side with the oppressor in exchange for personal profit.

That one black or brown friend that agrees with social or political perspectives that are anti-black or anti-brown in application does not exonerate its immoral or unethical impact on black and brown people. Nor does this token friendship negate any racist or negative attitudes, comments or behavior.

What is expected of black people is not expected by others in similar situations and what is often forgotten by many immigrant minorities is that their rights would not exist if it was not for the fight by black Americans.

Black people are expected to constantly be overly happy, docile, entertaining, and compliant at all times without any complaints or upsetting or opposing views on the world they live in.

In a more subtle way, this is what white supremacy compels many people to feel. This sentiment in itself is proof that black lives are not valued equally with others. When Jewish people report memories of how they survived the holocaust or the attacks of Nazi Germany, they are never told to shut up or stop whining.

When the American government spends millions of dollars searching foreign islands or ocean waters for a single white female, no one speaks up and tells their families to shut up or stop crying about their problem.

When white families become victims of police brutality, they are awarded justice at much higher rates than black families who almost never see the murderer of their loved ones become indicted or tried in court, just like their ancestors during the Jim Crow era. For white families, there is almost always some form of justice from the legal system, while denial or inequality is almost given to black families.

White privilege does exist in America, and it has very little to do with a white person’s class being a hinderance. If anything, white people who are not rich but rise to success in the worst outcomes are some of the greatest examples of white privilege. Why? Because those same resources and opportunities were not available to black people in the same conditions, just like the invention of the suburbs, the G.I. Bill and redlining.

When black people talk about the immoral and unethical institution of chattel slavery, we’re told to stop brining up the past, while those same individuals attempt to glorify the confederate battle flag used by those who went to war to keep black people enslaved. When black people mention the continued impact of slavery on today’s society, we’re told that’s an exaggeration and yet we can see the white supremacists still lingering around town or being arrested for selling meth and committing murder.

When black people talk about the horrors of slavery and the horrific treatment of their ancestors after slavery ended until the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered by white supremacists, laws are introduced to ban the teaching of it to children at school. Where is the sympathy for us that is so easily given to Jewish people? If their holocaust was a painful four years, then how much restitution and sympathy should be awarded to for more than 400 years of constant theft, violence, rape, larceny, murder, torture, disenfranchisement and oppression? Where is our 40 acres and a mule? Where are our reparations for all of the land, cities, businesses, relatives and property that was destroyed like in Tulsa, Oklahoma or Rosewood, Florida?

So, therefore I conclude that black people in big cities and small towns must move forward with no apologies about how they feel, about their experiences, about their interactions and any other thing that makes non-black people uncomfortable. There is no shame in being black and to be black is to live unapologetic.

The truth is we live in a world that is cruel and unfair, but that does not make it an acceptable living condition. It does not mean we simply give up and accept it for what it is and never attempt to improve it for ourselves or future generations. There is always hope and as long as there are good people in the world of every demographic and every skin color, there is hope for a better world. However, with the Earth being constantly poisoned, that hope may have an expiration date on it along with the existence of humanity.

-Cliff A. May



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