I'm Tired. We're Tired.

Racism has grown to represent the systematic oppression of a group of people. Within Howard County, this definition is apparent in more ways than one. Although a county prized for “diversity,” racism still exists within the Howard County boundaries. This is an open letter addressing discrimination faced every day amongst Howard County Schools and the county, in general.

Growing up, I lived in mostly White neighborhoods. My naivete and failure to see a large host of individuals that looked like me in my neighborhood, in a sense, made me color blind. Racial differences were never something I delved into. However, my first real exposure of discrimination would change my views entirely. I remember I was ten years old, walking down the street with my godsister--who was eight at the time. A light blue pickup truck began to pull up on the street, slowing down as it got closer to us. A group of White teenagers were in the back of the truck, while an older White guardian was in the front seat of the truck with the windows down. My godsister and I were greeted with, “Hey Niggers!!” followed by a ruckus of laughter. I remember running home with a string of emotions, the strongest being anger. I told my parents of the incident and to my surprise they were not shocked. At the time, I was confused because I had expected them to have the same reaction as me, but to my avail that was not the case.

Now that I am older, I have a better understanding of my parents’ reaction. They were not shocked because they already knew I was going to face this type of discrimination. There was nothing they could do to prevent such racism because that’s the America we live in. Racism is real and as much as people try to push it under the rug or avoid the topic, it’s here to stay. The first thing people will see when encountering me is my race and gender; an African American female. Not only is racism apparent globally, but here in our “diverse” country as well.

Personally, I experience the most racism in classroom settings. Constantly, I here “nigga” used by people who are not of African American descent. Let’s make one thing clear, if you are not Black, REFRAIN from using the term at ALL times. Paul Mooney said it best, “Everyone wants to be Black, but nobody really wants to be Black.” I see people coining Black terms, Black dances, and quoting Black songs everyday, but why is it as soon as we highlight the rising oppression experienced within our race that we are silenced? Funny how no one wants to speak up then.

With the most recent Mount Hebron case, the anger has reached its tipping point. A drunk night with friends resulted in a Periscope broadcast, with a student saying the following statements, “I mean, seriously, who the f--- cares about some Black man who dies. They’re an inferior race, OK? Does anybody really care? Like look at this motherf-----!” He then holds up a $5 bill displaying the face of Abraham Lincoln. “This guy is a traitor to the White race! Alright?” (Kelly, Sean) Many expressed regret and disgust upon seeing the video and hearing such caustic statements. This is the racism you do not see, but the same racism we (African American community) face on a day to day basis. It comes to a point where we have learned to allow such statements to roll off our shoulders. Constant unknown microaggressions degrade the state of our culture everyday. And to those who say, “Who cares? Why do you care so much? We have a Black president, what more do you want?” we can not help but laugh at such ingenious questions.

We care because you can not experience the persecution we face on a day to day basis because you are not Black. You can educate yourself, but you will never truly understand the exhaustion we face as a race. We have to begin conversation to help others understand what exactly it is to be Black. Take the time to listen when a fellow student confesses their struggles and take the time to realize our passion should not be mistaken for being crazy. We are passionate about our people and in the wake of Black History month, we refuse to let the silence continue.