By: Breanna Y.
Imagine being on the ground, surrounded by people who are constantly kicking you. Every time you try to stand, POW! Another kick sends you back to the ground. Now, after constantly being kicked for a good while, imagine that a whole new group surrounds you, and starts slapping you. You see some people who look like you, but they are slapping you too, because they don’t want to be on the ground with you, so they join in hurting you as well.
You haven’t fully recovered from being kicked, so you moan in pain, and try to tell them to “Stop!” One “Slapper” says to you, “Oh my goodness, I barely touched you. I’m not kicking you like those before me. Stop complaining and being a victim”, then continues slapping you. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how I would describe the way black people, specifically black Americans, are treated.
“Black people need to get over it, other races were slaves too you know!”….this sentence, along with “I am not my ancestors, don’t blame me!” reminds me that society dismisses anything black people say, or do, as either: 1) complaining, and/or 2) somehow offensive to them. Which allows them to downplay the importance of what’s being said or ignore it entirely. As if we are crying out for nothing. When it comes to “black issues”, it seems society confuses being a “victim” with speaking/standing up for yourself, culture, people, etc.
The “victim” concept makes me shudder with disgust, it’s just another way to discourage anyone from saying anything because they don’t want to be considered a “victim” of anything. Not ONCE have I ever used my ancestors past as a reason for how I couldn’t do anything in the present, however that doesn’t mean I “forgot” and decided not to educate myself on what they, my grandparents, my parents, and black people in my generation, faced/facing now.
I find it especially disheartening when I hear black people, and other minority groups uses the “victim” concept. If it weren’t for black people throughout history, in your words, “complaining” and “being a victim”, you wouldn’t have the rights you have now as a minority, or it would’ve taken you longer to obtain those rights.
All society needs is that one black person to agree with what they say, “This isn’t offensive, stop being a victim”, “it’s ok if (blanks) says the “N” word even though they aren’t black”, so they can continue to do as they please and say “Well, my black friend said it was okay if I say this, or that”.
My response to people saying we need to “get over” what happened, and to white people in particular saying they are not to blame for what their ancestors did:
1) No one ever said that black people are the only group that were slaves and oppressed. What IS being said is that black people are still struggling not only physically, but mentally as well. The negative ways we were made to view ourselves is still strongly present in our communities, and society. Black people were enslaved, oppressed, and treated unequally longer than we have been “free”. Slavery may have been 150+ years ago, but the 60’s weren’t, and we are still feeling the effects of both.
2) To all the white people that think we are “blaming” them for what your ancestors (heck and grandparents) have done in the past, we are NOT. We ARE, however, trying to bring to your attention that certain things that you do/say today stems from a racial/racist time period. You guys seem to act like “victims” yourself, any time history is talked about.
Instead of learning why these things are offensive to our culture, some of you remain unempathetic, not willing to understand, and/or act as if black people are somehow at fault, the problems we speak of don’t exist, and that you and this current generation plays no part in trying to solve the problems created in the past.
In the end, it’s as if society is saying, “Let us discriminate against you in peace! And if you speak up, you (black people) are keeping racism alive, not us!” To all the black people who aren’t afraid to let their voice be heard, don’t let anyone try to shut you up, and call you a “victim”, because when you don’t educate yourself on the past and how it affects the present, and you don’t educate those who speak negatively of black people (even if they are black themselves), that’s when you are a true “victim”. I’ll end this article with a quote that we all may have heard, but with my own spin/interpretation:
You don’t fight fire with fire (racism with racism, discrimination with discrimination, prejudice with prejudice, etc.) because the fire will only burn hotter, and you also don’t cover it with a blanket “of ignorance” (not talk about it, act like everything is settled, etc) because it will only catch fire as well. The only way to extinguish a fire is with water (education, empathy, and respect).