As a child, I idolised the American lifestyle.
I marvelled at the affordable and stylish clothing, the variety of foods and amazing places to go...I was in love. At times, I did not want to return to Barbados just yet and I couldn't wait to get back on the plane. I even planned one day to live there and experience the American dream.
But one day, I had a nightmare about the American dream and I jumped up. I fell off the bed, opened my eyes and my vision has never been clearer. My grandmother and mother always cautioned my tall black uncle about wearing his hoodie in public, about being too friendly to them and I finally understand why.
Once you see something you cannot "unsee" it. Once you grow to understand the struggles of people your colour, you never want to walk in their shoes.
From 2013, I recall watching my people killed and it seemed to be justified. The murderers walked free as if a life wasn't taken, maybe it was just lost in an unjust system. The families of the dearly departed would grieve, march and raise awareness that black lives matter. I always found it interesting to see trends like all lives matter emerge and photos of the good cops suddenly appeared, did they not understand the premise of the movement? All lives matter, but not all races face the same threats.
It is 2020 now and we're still seeing the reemergence of a sickness that truly never left. In fact Will Smith said, "Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed" and that struck a nerve. We're still watching black men especially take their last breaths, we're still seeing innocent black blood spilled in the streets, they are STILL being killed for no reason. Racism never ended after centuries of oppression, we knew lingered but now we're technologically advanced to watch it continue.
They talk about inclusivity of all races, setting goals to tackle a myriad of issues in the world but nothing explicitly addresses the downfall of the black man to a system that fails him. They are still being profiled, beaten and killed because of the single greatest part of them that can never be changed. Police brutality happens, it continues and it makes it okay for ordinary racist people to call and say that a black man in their neighbourhood is looking "suspicious." With one shot or knee to the throat, a son...brother...father...boyfriend...husband...friend is gone forever.
In 2019 alone...can you imagine?
It does not matter if I write this from the Caribbean, we all feel outraged or shaken when one of our own is taken. Black people have been divided, broken and brainwashed for so long that we always feel the need to stand together. Even as we use our platforms and voices to make these acts trend, I can't help but wonder if the system will ever change. Over the years names have become statistics and incidents have created a cycle, will it ever end?
Until they remember names and not case numbers, until they feel the cries of grieving families and understand the value of a black life, until goals are set towards resolve...there will never be justice for the black man in America.