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Dating : Dear Non-Black People…

h2>Dating : Dear Non-Black People…

Richard Hackman

It takes pain, it takes hurt, it takes struggle, and it takes love to make a difference, especially now, especially when it matters. It matters now because we are dying, we are being killed off one by one.

You might not have seen it before because there were no cameras. You might not have given it much thought because it seemed few and far between. You may not have felt so bad because maybe you thought there was a crime severe enough to justify our death. You may not have cared before because you didn’t know any black people, you didn’t know me, but now you do.

I’m not here to judge you, or what you’ve said or done in the past about all of this. But now that you know…now that it’s so obviously in your face, now that you see there isn’t any wrong-doing that could possibly justify our unnecessary killing…

What are you going to do about all of this?

I’m asking you because before there was always a reason why what we were doing to stop this was not good enough, or somehow making the problem worse. So I guess it’s your turn to do something.

What are you going to do about all of this? And what do you want from us to get it done.

I applaud and deeply respect my non-black friends and family who have been checking up on me, making me feel heard and showered with love. It helps. It helps to stem the tide of anxiety and depression that the helplessness of this life-long race crises has brought on. Your care for me, for us, has to combat learned and generationally-inherited oppression. It is not a small undertaking, and may take decades more to start to heal.

You all are the choir, a willing, eager and open audience. My Bible thumping about racial injustice will always resonate with you, but it doesn’t seem to persuade your non-black brothers, sisters, parents, children who may not understand or be bothered to hear this gospel. The gospel truth about racial inequality, and the systemic stripping away of our human rights and dignity.

Why? Because as with every hard conversation we tend to shoot the messenger. In these instances the shooting is real, and the reality is that the messenger has mostly been black.

So please, non-black people, as a start, take the privilege you have of not being shot on sight to deliver a message to other non-blacks for us. A message to not judge us, or kill us, based on the color of our skin. Share the message of how our communities are scared for our lives, all the while trying to lift ourselves out of poverty, all the while trying to raise at-risk children within these scared communities, all the while trying to afford basic education so that those children can live and grow beyond the fear, and beyond our suffering. Share the message that the way we look and sometimes dress may be different than you but doesn’t mean we are not capable, accomplished, intelligent and innovative. These are expressions of personality, individuality, creativity within our respective means. We are resourceful, and we are problem-solvers, qualities we claim to value at every level of our society. Take these messages and share them with other non-black people you know, people in power, in schools, in companies, law enforcement, government…because we have very little or no representation there, in spite of how hard we collectively try.

As has become our way of silent protest, I take a single knee, and say, please non-black people, talk about these things. Talk amongst yourselves, challenge each others beliefs, argue about it (respectfully), get angry if you need too, lord knows we’ve been angry for so long. We’re tired.

Yes, it is scary to think your friends, your family members may not want to talk to you after having these kinds of hard conversations, but really, why is that?

What is sooooo wrong about you encouraging your people to always be conscious to love and respect people who are different than you? Now, you may really love the people in your lives that don’t want to understand, or may even feel animosity toward black people like me. You don’t want to risk losing them…as hard as that is for me to think, I empathize, but now you’ve lost me, and my love and respect for you. If this part feels hurtful to you, that’s a good thing, it tells me you care about me and my wellbeing, but maybe just not enough to do something about it. If that is you I just have this to say:

You are not truly losing those people I’m inviting you to challenge and engage in these hard conversations. They will in fact live on, living healthy, safe, and normal lives. They still have choice, and they still have their freedom. As for me…my life never will be normal. I will live the rest of my life constantly being hyper aware of my environment, assessing threat levels, measuring the racial makeup of any given room, switching up how I talk, how I walk to try and fit in, and literally looking over my shoulder in fear. And despite my best efforts, one day unexpectedly, I may be killed by the very thing I spent my entire fearful life trying to avoid; the very thing I tried to speak up against, the very thing I told you would happen to me if we didn’t change our current horrific reality.

When I die, when that last bit of light leaves my eyes…I’ll consider myself truly blessed if my eyes aren’t looking at some cold, hard, black pavement. Right now, there is no guarantee for me that won’t happen. But maybe if you hear my message, if you share our message with other non-black people like yourself, maybe just maybe, my final moments on this earth could look something a little more like the ones you envision and expect for yourselves.

Dear non-black people I believe in you…

What do you think?

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