It’s incredible how many times I can feel despair in a day. Every news cycle brings forth another smattering of bruises… spraying my soul like raindrops misting my skin. Can I ever heal from this endless assault on my existence?
I could barely process the news of Alton Sterling before unwillingly encountering the brutal footage of Philando Castile’s murder on my Facebook feed. My eyes endured this trauma incredulously. How can this be happening? WHY IS NOBODY DOING ANYTHING TO STOP IT? Worse still, folks continue to share posts showcasing violence against Black bodies, swapping videos and articles like souvenirs from white supremacy.
The more we see these images, the more desensitized we are to the violence. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were real people, with families, friends, and communities that loved and treasured them –their ruthless executions burn in my heart and consciousness more fiercely than any politicians’ anemic “thoughts and prayers.” My chest aches and my eyes burn. I’m feeling burnt out and scared.
Navigating the world in my Black body shouldn’t be an exhausting, fearful experience.
Those of you who don’t live in a Black body won’t know what it feels like to fear for yourself or your family. You don’t have to live with the nightmare that one day your brother won’t come home because someone with a gun and no sense decided that their anxiety is worth more than his life. You don’t wake up distraught that you could be next.
Coping and managing are my biggest priorities right now. I’ve always used my identity as a bridge between my Black and Pilipino communities, but I’m tired of using Black death as a conversation-starter with the latter. No matter how much I work with and identify as a Pilipino-American, I never forget my Blackness. Blackness supersedes any of my other identities because it’s the one that can get me killed.
Many Pilipinos perpetuate anti-Black rhetoric that equates dark skin as bad, and white is right. Colorism poisons our community—a relic from the 400+ years of Western colonization the Philippines was subjected to via Spain and the United States. Pilipinos who reject Blackness to gain access to whiteness are playing themselves; working hard will not buy our way into white supremacy. This myth only serves to build wedges between our communities of color, shameful given our shared history of solidarity.
Staying silent during this epidemic of Black death because it doesn’t impact you directly means that you’re part of the problem. White supremacy thrives on the silence of others. Injustice should beget your outrage, and choosing to ignore the assault on Black lives demonstrates your complicity with anti-Blackness as the status quo.
Rather than basking in the relative privilege that non-Black POC enjoy in their proximity to whiteness, I ask that Pilipinos learn how to leverage their privilege to organize for police accountability. Put the pressure on legislators to make transformative policy change. Amplify the voices of Black leadership within our own community. If we want a truly just society, its time we join our fellow brown and Black community members in the fight for racial justice.
President 2016-2017, UniPro NY