Black Lives Through White Eyes

I will always tell my nephew he’s a beautiful brown boy.

I will always tell my nieces that they are beautiful brown girls.

Never will they have to worry about wanting to feel loved, beautiful, or valid because they’ll have heard it their whole lives. Society’s standard of beauty will not have them questioning their very being in this world. Sometimes I find myself questioning how they will be looked at through the scope of the injustice system…. black and brown bodies only worthy of a hashtag? That’s scary.

Before my awakening and elevation of social consciousness and realizing my duties as a white ally to a community that has been oppressed for over 400 years, my sister told me the best news I had ever gotten in my life, I will be an uncle. She was pregnant with her first-born child who we later found out was assigned male at birth. She & her partner, Ali, named their first child together Jordan born February 28th, 2010. Since then, she has had three beautiful girls as well. Keiara, Sahara, and Aubree Jae.

My sister, Audrey, and I have always been ‘down’. We were always invited to the cookout. No matter the lack of melanin in our skin, we were always referred to as family, cousin, or even, “Man y’all my *insert N word as endearment here*.” We were raised to treat everyone the same no matter how different we were, with respect. No, we weren’t raised not to see color, I thank my mom immensely for that because had she raised us that way, I would not be an asset to the revolution.

I remember in elementary school my first interaction with a black girl. Her name was Molly. She had on her uniform just like everyone else but atop of her head was a part that Moses himself would be jealous of and two huge afro puffs. I asked her if she wanted to play four square, she was with it. We had so much fun. I told my mom when I got home, “Mom I met a girl today. She’s black.” “Okay, what’s her name?” Crazy huh? Even at a young age, I told my mama her color before I told her my new friends name. “Her name is Molly.” “Is she nice?” she asked. “Yes. She’s my friend.” I replied with certainty. “Well then that’s all that matters.” My mom planted that seed in me and I’ve been blossoming ever since.

My sister dating, sexing, and later marrying a black man was no surprise to any of us. She like me, was an equal opportunity dater. However, raising a black boy & three black girls in America was never anything ANY of us white folks had planned for. Aren’t we all raised the same? No. Fuck no.

July 13th, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26th, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. 7:09 p.m. EST a 911 call was made. 7:16 p.m. there was a gunshot. 7:17 p.m. police arrive to the scene. 7:30 p.m. Trayvon was pronounced dead on the scene. This was the case that woke me up to the criminal INjustice system that AmeriKKKa has in place. Trial started on my birthday that year, June 10th, 2013 and I followed each part of this trail. By the time the verdict was read, I was red (you know YT folks change colors based off emotion). I couldn’t believe that this man was found not guilty with all the evidence (that was ruled not enough to charge Zimmerman with a hate crime) provided. Then again, the judge did not allow racial profiling a factor to be presented in this case. Bitch…

All I could do was look at my nephew and wonder, will he be shot dead because of his threatening demeanor of being black in America? Will ice tea and skittles be his weapon of choice. Will his body be the cause of a national outcry for justice? I can only hope not.

My sister and I have had man conversations surrounding the race of her children and how they will navigate through the world and the systems in place. Often these conversations end up a little tense because of the topic. Again, who the hell can teach a white woman how to raise black children when the experiences of them aren’t the same? How can she prepare the kids she bared about people who look just like her that will put people who look like them AND their father through hell; just because of the color of their skin? The system will literally kill them then leave their bodies on the street for onlookers to speculate as the warm blood will leave a trail to a hung jury, no indictments, paid leave, and yes, a hashtag.

“They’re too young. I don’t want to scare them.” Emmet Till, 14. Tamir Rice, 12. Mike Brown, 18. Both killed by white supremacy and systemic racism. How young is too young to tell a black kid that… they’re black? How do we have these conversations? This is where representation and the lack of care for white sensitivity comes into play.

Black people make up 12% of the population yet account for 40% of the prisons population in the United States. Black men ages 12-34 have a 14x higher rate of experiencing police brutality as well as discrimination by police than their white counterparts. Black girls are suspended from school for nonviolent offenses 5x more than their white counterparts. AIDS is one of the leading causes of death in black women with 14x more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts. While black men who sleep with men have 1 in 2 chances of being diagnosed with HIV before their 40. Black women are 268% more likely to die while giving birth. Therefore, race matters. Yes, it will always be about race.

Conversations with my sister’s kids and race however, is always interesting. When I ask them what color they are, they say brown or tan. Being that they are aware of the different shades within their household, I always make sure to let them know that their skin is beautiful. I always show my nieces pictures of beautiful brown or mixed girls. My sister gets frustrated in stores when shopping for Barbie’s or baby dolls because she wants the toys, movies, and coloring books to represent her children. My niece Keiara loves Moana. Sahara loves her braids. Aubree, well she ain’t even got teeth yet.

My nephew is the tough one. He is what society would deem “a regular boy”. He loves gun, crossbows, and anything can potentially shoot your eye out. I remember last year he asked me for a BB gun for Christmas. I told him, “Jordan, I can’t buy you that. I don’t want anything to happen to you. Do you know what happens to little black boys with guns if the police see them with it?” Of course, he didn’t know the answer to this. Instead he gave me a sad face and pouted which then followed with, “But I’m not that black, I’m brown.” Colorism has surfaced. Again, how does one not black teach a child with heavy melanin content about such things?

Many people, white people, like to think that the civil rights marches, protests, and bus rides were millions of years ago. There are people alive and well that talk about times of segregation, voter suppression, and COLORED ONLY SIGNS. My sister and her partner would be an illegal relationship before 1967 (Loving v. Virginia), my nieces and nephews would be products of them breaking the law. Bitch it’s 2018, was 1967 that long ago? My mother was born in 1959… Okay then. My nieces and nephew would’ve had to go to different schools than white folks had it not been the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 which didn’t take effect until 1957 when the Little Rock 9 were escorted on to high school campus by military personnel. This happened in AmeriKKKA. Land of the free (if you’re white) and home of the brave.

White people, listen. We’ve got to stop telling black folks how to navigate the system that we flourish from. Stop telling black people how to interact with police when we are slapped on the wrist for the same crimes they do years for, even if they are not guilty. When someone says BLACK LIVES MATTER, to not all lives matter them. Black Lives Matter is simply a statement that many people to this day don’t believe i.e. your president. No matter your social circle, your relationship with black folks, and your wokeness WE ARE NOT BLACK! We cannot speak on how it is to be black in America. We, white people, don’t know what racism because racism is SYSTEMIC! We cannot experience something we benefit from, not gonna happen sis/bro. Black people cannot be racist, simply because there aren’t enough black people to inflict the hate, trauma, and systemic oppression white people have created to remain “superior”.

Trust me. I still get checked CONSTANTLY about my privilege, conditioning, and biases that have been drilled into my head by media and society since I came into this world. Yes, I’m a gay man which means I am in a marginalized community but still my white privilege allows me access to care, a seat at the table, and my voice to be elevated in spaces of decision making. I could go on about how white gays thrive off white supremacy but child, I’ll write another blog about that cause… yea.

Many white folks would rather keep their privilege than see a day of equality. Especially white women. 53% of white women voted for your president. 53 fucking percent of white women voted for a man that publicly expressed his support for a rapist, expressed his privilege of grabbing a woman by the pussy, expressed his distaste of a black man exercising his constitutional right to protest by calling him a son of a bitch, calling Mexicans thugs, calling Haiti a shit hole country. White women helped the continuing demise of AmeriKKKA. Ken Like Barbie (Ken Robert Williams) ever so eloquently said it best, “White supremacy is domestic terrorism.” Period.

As an uncle of mixed race kids, take my privilege not them. You cannot have them.

I write this to unpack. To share my worries. To share insight of things I’ve witnessed. To call white people out. To let black people, know, they matter. To let my sister know she is an amazing mother and to let her know I see her struggles. To let my nieces and nephew know, I will die behind their freedom.

Michael Lamb