Eight minutes, forty-six seconds.
That’s the time it took to turn the world on its head.
The last breath George Floyd took breathed life into a revolution that has spanned fifty states and over eighteen countries uniting individuals of all factions.
It has taken a lot of time for me to write this entry, awkwardly stumbling around the keyboard in search of some “revolutionary statement”, a declaration of sorts. I came to realize that this isn’t about saying something new, it’s about saying what isn’t said enough—Black lives are being lost to a system built against them.
I’m not here to relay statistics or to sway your opinion. I don’t want to be a source of information where there are so many available (links are provided below). Instead, I’ve chosen to be a vessel of experiences. In sharing glimpses of my life as a young Black woman in America, I am offering a space for some people to understand what numbers will never truly capture.
Whether you care to acknowledge the inequities BIPOC* face or not, the residue of America’s dark past is undeniably present in our modern society. The conversation of Black death is an integral part of Black life. Just yesterday, in between slicing birthday cake, my family told my little sister to make a wish while mourning the loss of Rayshard Brooks and countless others all in one breath. It doesn’t even interrupt the celebration of life, it’s simply a part of it.
Every day feels like someone else is blowing out our candles.
Three weeks ago, over two thousand voices echoed through the streets of Downtown Miami. Chants of “No Justice, No peace” ricocheted off highrises carried by the breeze.
En route to this protest, I had to take the public Metrorail system. While I waited for the train alongside my mother and two friends, we used the time to decorate our signs for the protest. A voice behind me called for my attention as I colored in the ‘B’ of “Black Lives Matter”.
I turned around to match this voice with a scruffy, middle-aged white man with blue eyes and shaggy dirty blonde hair. “What’s that you’re doing there, huh? Is this for a protest?”, his voice sounded baiting. I responded with a simple nod. Tense silence passed and then he broke it, “You- you know what sign I haven’t seen?”, chuckling to himself, “All Lives Matter!” as if nailing his sick joke. “Cause they do, right? Shouldn’t all lives matter?” With my back towards him, I refused to entertain his ignorance, waiting, until he finally went his way, laughing again at his weak punchline.
If all lives mattered, he’d be coloring a sign beside me. He would recognize the urgency to protect his fellow life who is being threatened on account of being Black. It is draining to explain what many already know but fail to accept because that reality is inconvenient.
The pain BIPOC feels does not exist in a vacuum. The trauma extends in all directions.
Since the dawn of time, a class of people sought dominion over the other, diminishing the value of another human being to an object that only exists to be owned. How psychologically broken one must be to have taken the lashes, but have we examined the loss of humanity that had to take place to hold the whip?
We are reaping what has been sewn into the bloody fabric of America. The programming runs so deep. It has invaded our language in words such as “privilege.” It shouldn’t be a “privilege” to live, that is a natural-born right. How do you ever expect demographics of people to reverse their perception in society when they are constantly reminded they’re minor, er, I mean, “minorities”. I suppose that’s a conversation for another day. Point is, the seed of inequality is rooted so deeply in our design that we don’t even know what or who is pulling our strings.
Living in my skin is rehearsing the quickest way to convince someone why I deserve to live if, God forbid, I am pulled over by the police. Living in my skin is not wanting to pick up my phone for fear of seeing another reflection of me being gunned down or someone trying to justify the loss of human life. Both sicken me. Living in my skin is listening to my Nana recount her childhood in the South over 60 years ago and feeling like she’s reading my diary. Living in my skin is persisting with the knowledge that someone woke up this morning hating me without ever having met me.
Through all the darkness that has been brought to light, I’m sure most of us have come to at least this consensus—we have to destroy in order to rebuild. Sounds daunting, I know, but it's the most constructive path we can take. In fact, it’s exciting. We have a chance to create a world reimagined where the value of someone’s life is never in question; we have a chance to get it right this time.
I am encouraged each day by the outpour of empathy demonstrated by my peers who have taken on the responsibility to be change leaders in this chapter of history.
This was not a tale to bare pity, this is my life and though it comes with its hardships, if I was given the choice, I would choose my identity again and again.
Peace & blessings,
Kaiya Nyasha (@kaiyanyasha)
BICOP* - Black, Indigenous, People of Color