Happy 4th of July: Forgetting to Remember
I would love to introduce my family friend, Almani Canada, who modeled for our recent photoshoot.
Forgetting to Remember
July 4th is coming up and it makes me think of independence and freedom. Two things I once thought all Americans, regardless of skin color or heritage, were entitled to. However, in light of the recent events that have occurred in this country, I have accepted the fact that the liberty and justice promised to all Americans, was liberty and justice for the white, and wealthy Americans. After hundreds of years, black Americans are just now starting to get the justice promised in this country because everyone is coming together in taking a stand against hate. Here’s to a memorable 4th of July.
I remember when I first learned about Martin Luther King Jr. and who he was. I remember how it felt learning about a black man that made the most impactful change this country had ever seen. And how that felt being though I was one of two black kids in my entire elementary school. I remember how it felt to learn about a society that thought people that looked like me were treated less than simply because of the color of our skin. An idea almost thought to be something born of a dystopian world, but in fact, was the world I was living in. I remember all the stories I heard about these people that looked like me living in this world. From the brave like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Ruby Bridges, to the scary like Emmet Till and plenty of others that met his same sad fate. I remember how those stories invigorated me into learning more about these people, and how to stop this scary, evil mindset from coming back (I thought it was a thing of the past because I had white friends and they were so nice...little did I know).
I vowed to never forget the struggles that my people had experienced in the past and be vigilant in spreading the word to whoever would hear about the senseless injustices and crimes committed against African Americans during these times. But as time passed by I was slowly forgetting. I was becoming complacent in a society that I thought accepted me but in reality, was merely a facade of inclusion. An illusion that I was the same as my white peers, but still treated differently than them. And that's when I started to remember my vow. I remembered when Trayvon Martin was killed for walking in his own neighborhood, and the man who killed him was cleared of all charges. I remembered when Donald Trump was elected president, and studies showed that racial differences started to increase. And finally, I remembered with the death of George Floyd.
His death scared me because I remember thinking, another death of a black man by another cop. It was almost like it became typical at that point. And that’s what made me afraid that. That I thought of this as usual. But it soon became unusual. People were speaking up about this injustice. People from all walks of life: black, white, rich, poor. Everyone was out in the streets, calling for justice for this black man. People’s tolerance for this behavior of racism, and bias, was over. And that's when I started to fully remember my vow, and also why I forgot it in the first place.
Because it had seemed as though people around me weren’t acknowledging the problems black people had faced, and we’re still facing, in this country. But now I feel like people’s eyes are finally being open. They are willing to listen, learn, and change their previous behavior to break the cycle of the disease of racism that has afflicted this nation for far too long. I now feel comfortable having discussions with my white friends and roommates regarding the issues African Americans face in this country, and they’re willing to sit and listen. I feel confident to tell them to sign petitions and inform themselves with black history the textbooks never taught them because they are willing to gain more knowledge to make a change. For a while, it seemed as though I was forgetting the promise I made to myself to remember the history, and inform others of the dangers our bias could bring. But the world wouldn’t allow me to forget. Because now is the time for change.