Openly Black in America

 For so long black people have tried to be seen and heard in a country that was not built for our voice.  Burdened with finding balance in the workplace, grocery store, and anywhere outside of the confines of our own home.  Constantly concerned if our hair, walk, vocabulary, approach, delivery or attitude was “too black” We didn’t want to be too black even though deep down inside there was a revolution simmering within. The time spent rewriting emails and rehearsing conversations in our heard trying to be direct, but not offensive. Somehow the color of our skin always made it offensive before it could ever be direct.  We would secretly educate ourselves on our black history and would hide what we knew to maintain professionalism. We would sometimes secretly ask or discuss supporting black business or the lack there of amongst each other. For some we couldn’t wait until February to relax our blackness, but never being fully comfortable or educated about our blackness. Often discussing our vacations, but not telling that in our research to determine our destination we had to explore the treatment of black people in a specific area or country.  For so long we have had to pretend being black in public wasn’t anxiety provoking exhausting and sometimes simply frustrating. Trying to pass, wondering if we were being black enough or too black. We were caged by others perception of our blackness. Our feelings aren’t being questioned and now everyone can see their colleague, supervisor and local community Karen for who we’ve been telling everyone she is, and how Karen’s apologies are often wrapped in white fragility. Everyone can finally hear and understand what we’ve been telling them about the dismissive visits to the doctor’s office. The context of our experiences are no longer questioned. For the first time White America is forced to look at the black perspective and it is uncomfortable, anxiety provoking, and shameful.

For the first time in a long time people feel the freedom to be openly black in America. We are wearing paraphernalia to boldly and proudly display the support of the Revolution that is actively happening. People feel the freedom to be openly black in America not concerned if anyone is watching matter of fact, hoping someone is watching. Protest in 50 states and over 18 countries in support of black lives is an overwhelming amount of support.  Black people are openly and publicly able to voice what we’ve being seeing and most importantly feeling when it comes to racism and oppression. We no longer have to pretend not to hear or questions the racial undertones. We are free to call them out and be heard, without question.  It is becoming commonplace to identify and call out racism without the fear of white fragility overshadowing the experience. For the first time we can express that we are tired and not be told, “but I know you can do it”.  Our plea for the same time as our white counterparts for self-care are being heard without question. We are still tip toeing in our blackness, because we have been forced to hide it for centuries. We are slowly coming out and it feels amazing. We are seeing the beauty of our melanin for what it has always been.  We are smart, creative, innovative, leaders, entrepreneurs, and so much more. We are overwhelmed by blackness. Some of us, for the first time in our lives are being openly black in America.

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