This is by no means a fashion related blog post and I do not apologize in advance. This is a three min read on Black America.
Americans may have been asleep for the past couple of years or so but some eyes sure have been open the past few weeks.
There still may be COVID-19 in the air but yesterday was Juneteenth and I bet you anyone reading this knows what that holiday is now. I personally came across this holiday ages ago. I'd just gotten a new iPhone and had gone through the ten million steps to add the U.S. holidays to my calendar. To be honest, at the time, I was just searching for the next day off from work. Your girl needed a vaca! But I remember wondering, "Hmm, Juneteenth must be one of those random holidays like Flag Day or Groundhog Day that no one really pays attention to." Until I looked it up.
Once upon a time, I lived in New York and worked at a company with only one other black person. He was an older gentleman, always so polite, but I'd never really interacted with him. I was coming off of a full binge of reading up on Black history in the U.S. (after looking up what Juneteenth was) and honestly, I was shooketh. Born and raised in the Caribbean, at the time, I'd really only known my Caribbean history. I mean, did you know there used to be a whole Black village where Central Park is now? I was so anxious to talk about everything I'd read with someone who might know more and I figured this man must know something...about something. So I got to work extra early the next day, sat at my desk and stared at the office door, waiting on him to walk in. Stalker much? As soon as he did, I asked, "Do you know what Juneteenth is?" His reply was, "Did your momma only now give you the talk or something?" And no, he wasn't referring to the birds and the bees. Apparently, as a Black man in the U.S., he'd gotten that talk and much more. So of course, I listened to his stories and I will never forget some of them to this day. Only sit in the balcony of the movie theatre, don't vote (even if it's your right now), always enter a white person's house from the side, never the front. Most importantly, remember that whiteness is and will always be supreme. WTF?! These were just some of the rules this Black man had to live by at one point in time and I was speechless.
As a Black woman, I've straightened (or should I say damaged) my hair for job interviews or used my 'white girl voice' on the phone in public. I've bought items at stores, not because I wanted to but I just simply hated being followed around like I couldn't afford what was on the shelf. I cringed so hard the first time a white coworker said she wanted to be tanned like me but still went on to hear all about her vacation. I once dated a white boy who was afraid to introduce me to his parents because I was black. I've overheard my white college professor whisper to her colleague in the back that "I was well spoken for a Black girl" but I still flashed her the biggest smile because I needed that A. I realized, I was living by rules too, the chains were just looser so I'd never given it much thought. When I came across Seneca village (during my Black history binge), I never looked at Central Park the same way again. I watched the 13th on Netflix four years ago when it was first released. I remember recommending it to my mother...FOUR years ago. I started listening to the actual lyrics of Tupac and stopped thinking of him as just some famous rapper. These days, I walk out of stores when I'm being followed around and might even tell them to kiss my Black a$$ on the way out, I use a full Caribbean accent whenever I want to, Karen, you may NOT touch my hair because it took about three business days to get it to look that way and no, you can never get your hair to be this curly.
To this day, Black people still follow crucial rules to survive racial profiling. Keep your hands visible, don't make any sudden movements, don't speak unless spoken to. These are some of the rules that Black men and women are taught in order to survive an encounter with law enforcement. If you are not Black, tell me, do YOU live by those rules? Is it fair that we should?
Why are some Americans only now waking up to the reality of Black America?