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Black Lives DO Matter
I raised my daughter in Oakland, the land stolen from the Ohlone tribe, near Fruitvale Station where unarmed Oscar Grant (a Black man) was shot in the back while lying on his stomach as he was being handcuffed, killed by a white policeman who “meant to Taser him.” Now I live on Pomo lands, a few miles from a town named after Confederate Army General Braxton Bragg, who owned over 100 slaves but never set foot in northern California. In 2015 the California Legislative Black Caucus sent a letter to Fort Bragg requesting a name change due to Bragg’s legacy of fighting to preserve slavery. The letter was essentially ignored, but the issue is alive again with some residents supporting a change and others wanting “history to be preserved.”
I remember teaching in a segregated Black community in West Las Vegas during volunteer integration. I had only two white students: a liberal professor’s son, and a troublemaker no other school wanted. The year after I left, under a desegregation plan mandated by law, white students were bused into the Black community one year only. In each remaining grade, Black children were bused to the white community.
I remember sitting in an auditorium, my Black child next to me as we watched Black Nativity on stage. I saw proud parents snapping photos as preschool children dressed in Sunday clothes sang their hearts out. I cried, knowing the struggles ahead of them, with only their skin color creating a lifetime of discrimination.
I remember my daughter’s sixth birthday party, our house filled with children and parents from her predominantly Black school. The white puppeteer we hired presented a story about a bad little Black boy who turned white when he became good. As people left, my white friend told me how nice everyone had been, sounding surprised.
My film discussion group recently watched Just Mercy, focusing on racism and lack of social justice in the south. I reminded them it doesn’t only happen there. My daughter’s husband was stopped last month outside of Boston. Two Black men on a deserted road at night, stopped for “seeming to be in a hurry,” although they were going below the speed limit. Their car was searched before they were released. My daughter’s response? “At least they didn’t plant anything.”
Then there are the social media battles. My distant relatives write rants showing no understanding of their racist assumptions: “I do not support BLM. They are a terrorist organization. Who has the guts to agree with me?” is one example. Comments that followed are even more depressing. And now, derisive texts about Kamala Harris, questioning her birthplace, her ethnicity, her qualifications, show what she's put up with all her life.
My daughter and her Black friends post daily about racial injustices. I respond in support, while countering racist comments from others. The divide is scary.
My daughter is tired. So am I.