HUMANIZE BLACKNESS

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By Michelle Lyons

By Michelle Lyons, Columnist

Just this past week, another unarmed black man was shot in the back seven times by the police while walking towards his three children.  However, unlike many others, this man survived.  His name is Jacob Blake.  Remember his name because he will go down in history as a key figure in this modern day civil rights movement.

Can you believe Rodney King’s beating was on March 3rd 1991, almost 20 years ago, and yet we are still experiencing Police brutality.  With all the advances in modern day technology why are we not focused on deescalating situations? Why are police in a first World country trained to kill? Why are our politicians not focusing on uniting black lives matter and good police officers? The World is watching and we are exposing our  greatest weakness, systemic racism.  The World should to respect us for our great military and our great values.

Too often people of color, especially Black Americans, are on the receiving end of being perceived as less than. Black Americans are viewed as guilty until proven innocent and not the other way around. As someone who was raised in a mixed race household one thing I will say is that my Jewish step-mother never made me feel less than human, and this has been a gift and curse in my life because the World I grew up in does not mirror The Country.

In 1999, I moved to Brazil and my world was flipped upside down. Ninety percent of Brazilians resemble me, and they live in poverty with no way for upward mobility. Every where I went store owners would follow me around to see if I was stealing, some stores wouldn’t even let me in unless I spoke English, and every time I saw a girl that looked like me she asked me which family I was working for, presuming I was a maid.  After I explained to them in Portuguese that I was American their eyes lit up like I was their superhero, some I could tell had never met a foreign black woman let alone a black woman that was successful.  They spoke no English so they had very little interaction with foreigners unless they were prostitutes.

After living in Brazil for 8 months I thought for sure I would return to The United States with a new found drive and appreciation for America. In fact, when living in Brazil the only thing I could think about was how proud I was to be an American.  However, when I returned to the US I had a new set of eyes and to my surprise the United States had way too many similarities.  It made me uncomfortable.  I had been living 19 years in my own elitist bubble in America, so I never realized the degree to which systemic racism existed.  Then as I got older I would experience it first hand.  It feels awful to have someone, especially someone with authority, look down on you without knowing anything about you and assume the worst.  This happens far too often for black Americans. Black people are held back from jobs, sentenced to longer prison terms, removed from their children, exploited and killed by the police because WE ARE NOT HUMANIZED.  Sure, we have Oprah and Tyler Perry who have beaten the odds, but with all odds against us from liberal Hollywood that exploits us to conservatives that imprison us, the only way to truly make it out the Matrix is with God’s Grace.  When we humanize blackness in America, America’s economy will rise to an extraordinary level of greatness.

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