To Be Black

By Elise Ferguson, F.E.P Board Member

We are in a state of emergency! What is the emergency, you ask? The constant murder of unarmed African Americans in this country. I no longer feel safe in this country. I fear for the safety of my younger brother, who is a 6-foot-tall African American man. This country considers him a threat and dangerous, even before they know his name or speak to him. African Americans live in fear that the headlines we read, on another brother or sister murdered by the hands of police could become a headline for our lives. We are traumatized. The African American community is fed up with the blatant disregard of our lives. Black lives matter, our lives matter. Change must come.

Two years ago, I wrote a poem after the murder of Nia Wilson in Oakland, California on July 22, 2018. The words of that poem still pertain to the way I feel today. Until there is significant change in this country, I will continue to feel those poetic words. Below I share with you, what it is like to be black in America.

To be black

  • To be black is to be heirs of the struggle and oppression our ancestors died fighting against,
  • To be black is to be criminalized the day you are born, a stigma you will carry forever,
  • To be black is to be considered a threat before opening your mouth,
  • To be black is to have skin that is hated,
  • To be black is to live in fear because society has shown time and time again black lives don’t matter,
  • To be black is to be made to feel inferior,
  • To be black is to be disposable and discarded,
  • To be black is to be denied the rights and fair treatment our white counterparts are given undeniably,
  • To be black is to be misunderstood and unappreciated,
  • To be black is to believe black is not beautiful,
  • To be black is to be foreign to the word “justice,”
  • To be black is to be outraged by the lack of care and compassion in Amerikkka for black people,
  • To be black is to be unarmed and gunned down,
  • To be black is to be just considered a color,
  • To be black is to be just that, BLACK.
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Shepherd

    This is a timeless poem and the truth of the matter is we are talking baby steps in a marathon; there’s no hope of winning as there is little chance of reaching the finish line.
    What we need to ask ourselves as a community is what change must happen? What tactics should be deployed? There is much ground to cover and the things of the past have gotten us far, but now the question is “are those things obsolete”.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Shepherd. There are numerous changes and tactics that can be made, i.e. invest in our community, defund police and use that money to provide our community with much needed resources, continue to demand this government does better, and boycott. The black community has the power to impact the economy, we just have to be willing to sacrifice and do it as a whole. We spend $1.2 trillion annually. Imagine the impact that would have if we collectively stop supporting certain brands and use that money to support black owned businesses. The ways of the past are not obsolete. Those older ways have gotten us here, i.e. protests. With protesting comes policy change. We must continue using ways of the past, but with a new twist. Change is possible, we just have to be consistent. Change is a marathon, not a sprint. Our history demonstrates that.

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