My heart is broken as I write these words. Growing up in Africa and Europe, and being an American citizen, it is a realization I came to many years ago. But as desperate as the situation seems to be, I continue to believe that things can change.
The past few days have been very intense with the killing of George Floyd – yet another black man who unjustly died in the hands of a police officer. Though I did not watch the video because I can’t afford to be any more traumatized as a black person, I saw the pictures and read many articles. It pains me to know that none of the other three officers stopped this murder from happening.
As a parent, it saddens me to think that this is the kind of world my kids are growing up in. Close to sixty years after the end of segregation and colonization, black people continue to be treated as second class citizens, no matter where they are in the world. As a black person, it hurts me to see videos circulating of black people being killed or mistreated because of their skin color.
As proud as I am to be black, it is exhausting to wake up every other day to this type of news. But, we have to continue to stand strong as we are literally fighting for our lives.
If we are not murdered like George Floyd by a police officer kneeling on our neck, we can be killed like Breanna Taylor while sleeping in our home. When we decide to go for a jog like Ahmaud Arbery, we might be hunted down and lynched by white supremacists.
While I will never understand why some people can hate other human beings just because of the color of their skin, I do not believe that racism will ever stop existing. I just think that there should be more repercussions when people decide to lead with racism.
It is not that black people refuse to move on from horrible past circumstances we faced like slavery, colonization, or segregation, but no matter how hard we try to move on, we continue to suffer from discrimination every day, and history keeps repeating itself.
How can you move on when you see black men continuing to get killed by the police because of the color of their skin?
How can you move forward when you see a police officer handcuffing a six-year-old black girl for throwing a tantrum at school?
How can you move on when you see foreign nations controlling African countries in a supposedly post-colonized world?
How can you not be affected when you see Africans in their country being mistreated in favor of other races?
When you continue to deal with discrimination not only at work but also in the healthcare system, school system, and the criminal justice system, how can you not be outraged?
However, black people can not be discouraged. No matter how the world treats us, we must continue to walk with our heads high and be proud of who we are. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.”
Black people deserve equality. We should not be expected to settle for being treated less than any other race. We should continue to fight for our rights. We deserve social justice. But as we fight for our rights, we need to support each other more through the economic empowerment of the black community.
The day before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In his speech, he discussed the importance of building a greater economic base and black institutions by pooling resources together to create change.
We already have the purchasing power (1.3 trillion dollars in 2019 in the US alone); we need to be more diligent and target our spending towards the improvement of black communities. Only two percent of our purchasing power circulates in the black community.
Redirecting ten percent of our spending towards black-owned businesses could create up to a million jobs in the black community. Black business owners are more likely to hire and invest in the black community. We can help close the growing racial wealth gap if we all increase our support to black-owned businesses. This strategy goes beyond America; it can be applied in Europe and beyond.
Like other communities, we have to understand our economic power. We can not continue to be voiceless. The stronger we are economically, the more power we will have, and the louder our voice will be.
It brings me joy to know that we are not alone in this struggle. I am thankful for people of other communities who are fighting with us, but we need more allies. We need our friends no matter the color of their skin to speak out against injustice.
When you see racism in action, do not stay silent – call it out. When you see us kneeling or protesting, do not try to stop us – join us.
Educate yourself on the injustices that we face every day, so you can become an ally. Help us grow stronger as a community by supporting black businesses. Let’s build a better world for our children. Together, we will rise.
“ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you are an ally, here are a few ways you can support the black community.
Participate in the Blackout day on July 7, 2020 in the US. This is a day of solidarity where we commit not to spend a dollar. This is a call to action to put pressure where it hurts and stop the murders, and lynchings of people of color without any repercussion.
A few sites to learn more and donate to organizations committed to bridging the racial gap :
A few resources to help support black businesses: