I really wanted to write something fun or positive this week, but how can I when the world around us is not happy or positive. I have read so many comments on the protest happening around the country most of which, thankfully are in support, but some had me doing a double take. Especially those coming from fellow Mexicans.
I grew up in a region primarily made up of Mexicans and I consider this a privilege because I personally never had to deal with racism. Well that is not taking into account the racism that most of us have had to deal with coming from our own community. Because yes, saying “hay esa niña esta bien bonita y guerita” or calling someone “india bajada de la sierra” is racist.
But all in all I was extremely sheltered, I knew racism was wrong but I didn’t know to what extent it was rooted into our country’s system. Of course I had always known that we were viewed as less by people outside of our community, as criminals and dumb. But I wrongly made peace with the fact that those ideas were never going to change.
In my magical little world I also happened to hear my people constantly spew out insults towards people of other minorities. Whether it was “los chinos son bien cochinos” or “tiene cara de terrorista,” there were many. But to me it was abundantly clear that the black community was the worst of the worst for them. They were all thugs, they were all lazy, or the stupidest of them all: they smelled bad. I luckily was never much of a follower so even when I would hear people say these things, including my relatives, I thought to myself well some might be but it is not logically possible for all of them to be.
Sadly when you never actually happen to meet a black person or question how these views affect them you toss it to the back of your mind. That was until I was old enough to understand what was happening outside of the RGV and started comparing the injustices that black people have had to face to the ones we deal with, and I concluded that we are not that different.
Just like us, black people are constantly viewed as delinquents. Just like our mothers, black mothers have to see their children go out every morning and pray that they come back at the end of the day. Just like us, they can’t even feel at ease in their own homes because they don’t know when law enforcement will break into their house and take them away. Just like us, they have to deal with discrimination when applying to jobs or school. Just like us, they don’t get compensated as they should and constantly get overlooked when it comes to promotions. Just like our people, especially men, they get killed by law enforcement and never get told why. Even less receive any justice on cases in which the death was unjustified.
So it has come as a shock for me when people in my own community seem to be reluctant to accept the black lives matter movement. I understand that as people who live in a place in which we don’t actively see racism happen it might be hard to understand, add to that the fact that our schools don’t actually teach us much about the subject especially when it pertains to racism against black people. But as people who have faced their own share of challenges with discrimination I can’t comprehend the lack of empathy.
“They shouldn’t be looting and rioting” they say. Well not everyone is, in fact it has been proven that on some occasions it isn’t even the protesters that are committing these crimes but white supremacists looking to put the blame on them and leave them in a bad light. Many protest peacefully like Martin Luther King did. They have tried countless times actually and they have received criticism every time, not to mention the protests during the civil rights movement might have started off peaceful but they didn’t end up that way. “They should just listen to authorities and they would be fine.” Will they? Because there are countless videos in which people are doing absolutely nothing but kneeling before getting gas bombs and rubber bullets shot at them.
“Well, the people who died probably had it coming.” Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her own home when the police entered and killed her based on an assumption that her apartment was being used to receive drug packages. Drugs were never found in her home, not to mention their two main suspects had already been identified, they were being investigated for selling drugs out of a house far from Breonna’s apartment. “Well, blue lives matter.” Being a cop is an occupation, they sign up for it knowing that they are putting themselves at risk. Meanwhile, black people don’t choose to be black or and they can’t do anything on how people judge them based solely on the color of their skin. “Well, all lives matter.” They do, and nobody is saying otherwise. But when some lives are at a higher risk of being taken unjustifiably we should put more focus on those, that’s not to say we don’t all have our own battles and they all need immediate attention. But from personal experience when my brother got taken by the border patrol he was jailed for a couple of days and sent back to Mexico, not killed.
“Well, who’s protesting against the kids being kept in cages?” Many people actually, there even were protests in which many black people stood besides Hispanics to fight this injustice. By the way many of the people who say that are people who didn’t even attend a protest themselves or donate anything to the cause. “They are exaggerating.” Just because something doesn’t affect you directly it doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem, you also can’t dictate how people feel about their suffering. You can’t just say it isn’t that bad when you aren’t the one living it. “A mi que me importa no tiene nada que ver conmigo.” La discriminación nos involucra a todos. Nos estaríamos mintiendo si dijéramos que a todos nos tratan con igualdad en este país.
Estos son solo algunos de los comentarios que he visto y que me han dejado muy decepcionada de la gente con la que crecí. ¿Que paso con el hoy por ti mañana por mi, con el has el bien sin mirar a quien? Porque en lugar de juzgar a los manifestantes no pensamos que si ellos lo logran, nosotros también podemos. Porque no nos inspiramos en ellos para nosotros también luchar contra las injusticias que nos aquejan solo por ser Mexicanos. Seamos realistas, para los supremacistas blancos todos somos iguales todos somos menos que ellos, pero nos han hecho creer que unos tenemos más valor que otros para dividirnos entre sí porque saben el poder que tenemos si estamos unidos. I believe in my people and I believe they are kinder and wiser than those comments, and I respect those who don’t want to get involved out of fear of repercussions, but I can’t respect those that actively choose to be unkind.
On a personal note, I especially support this movement because, during my college days, I had a sweet mate who taught me that all of those stereotypes about black people that I had been taught were wrong. Janet is one of the kindest, most hardworking women I have ever met. She is a smart young black woman who believes in building a better place for everyone, who treats everyone with respect and offers her friendship unconditionally. She is one of the few people I can say I am very proud of. For her and for people like her, and for the just and equal future that I hope we can all have, I stand by the fact that black lives matter.