Today, My Heart Breaks for Charleston

Today, I sat at my desk and stared at my skin for a moment. My olive complexion raises no suspicions when I’m around others. I don’t know what its like to have to rush home before the sun sets, because I might be mistaken for a perpetrator or someone with malicious intent. In many ways, I’m naïve to the prejudices and dangers that people of color face on a daily basis. I’ve never experienced these things first hand, but I have witnessed the degradation and the pain that people of color have been subjected to.

Please know that I am aware that prejudice and hate transcend black and white. Prejudice and hate exist in many, countless capacities, but today I write for Charleston. Usually, I write about books and writing here at Many Hats, but today, my heart is too heavy to summon a cheery post about the art and magic of reading. Today, my heart breaks for Charleston. My heart breaks for Trayvon and Freddie and Kalief and so many others.

Today, I remember the time by black husband was pulled over and harassed by police because he “looked like someone they were searching for”. I remember a separate time he was pulled over and forced out of his vehicle while the car was searched—all because his headlight was out. I remember standing in a local grocery store alongside my husband where a woman working there—when she realized we were together–walked away , refusing to help us.

Today, as a mother, I worry for the future of my incredible, smart, talented son—a child whose beautifully tanned complexion might become the sole cause for an untimely demise. A life not yet lived.

Today, I am burdened by the fact that our country has barely moved forward in the fight against racism and inequality, which is proven time and again through acts of violence and hatred. Through the systematic degradation of an entire culture, and through the continuous acts of violence and ill will, the United States as a country has failed its people. We have failed our children, and our children’s children.

obama quote

Today, the “land of the free” is nothing more than a fallacy if all of those within its borders cannot feel safe and content in their own skin. Collectively, we are all shackled by chains of our own making if we do not stand up for true freedom—freedom of race, of gender, of religion.

We must do better.

We must do better so that my 8-year-old child doesn’t have to come home in tears, confused because a child in his class voiced their hatred of another child— because of skin color.

We must do better, so that mothers and fathers will not have to worry about the well-being of their children just because their complexion isn’t snowy or their choice in faith isn’t Christian based.

We must do better so that on a Wednesday night, a group of people can congregate in prayer and good will, without having to worry about whether or not their lives will be viciously stolen from them.

We must do better.

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