Being Black in America

I cannot lie. This week, I have been emotionally spent. I have had to explain to my friend 

in Israel why peaceful protests have turned violent, what the point of looting is and more, 

only to feel frustrated and basically say “of course, if you aren’t Black how would you 

begin to understand?” The burden that Black people carry is an experience no one else can 

relate. 

 

More than being angry with her, I realized that I am upset because, as a Black person, I’m 

going to always have to explain why protesting is important, why Black lives matter and 

why, in some cases, being polite and peaceful won’t get us to justice. I am angry with my 

non-black “friends” who have fallen silent when their voices are needed the most. Those 

who are not using their white privilege and status to speak out against the injustices that 

have fallen on my people, shame on you. To those using this moment as a means of 

gaining “street cred”, shame on you. To those who are turning this movement into 

something it’s not, by doing things like looting to joke about it on social media, shame on 

you. 

 

To those who lack understanding and depth about the importance of the matter at hand, it 

is not on us to educate you. Pick up some materials to educate yourself and then take 

action to fight alongside us. To those in positions of power who abuse that power and 

decide that it’s okay to kill Black people because of your own prejudiced ways, big shame 

on you. 

 

We are tired of dying and being shown that we are not valued in a country that, mind you, 

our ancestors built. We are not going to sit by and hope for change. So, if you thought that 

action would not be taken, you’re wrong. If you thought that an uprising would not 

happen, you were wrong. We will not stand by and continue to watch our brothers and 

sisters die at the hands of corrupt and hateful officers. After all, in the words of Dr. Martin 

Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to 

justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single 

garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

 

I wrote this poem the other day: 

 

Being Black in America is constantly fighting an uphill battle, One that we can’t possibly win. 

Being Black in America is protesting every other month or week or day because another black 

person has been senselessly slain at the hands of former and current law enforcement. Being 

Black in America is the feeling of constant rage at injustices and ignorance. Being Black in 

America is constantly explaining to non-black friends why you’re so angry all the time, why they 

can’t use the N-word, and why things are offensive. Being Black in America is knowing that 

you’re hated, but it won’t stop anyone from appropriating your culture. Being Black in America 

is having to ask the same people who will put a bullet in your body without a question for help. 

Being Black in America means constantly code switching. Being Black in America means 

wondering if you didn’t get something you deserve because you’re black, while also being 

attacked for getting something due to the fact that you are. Being Black in America means 

working twice as hard to be seen as half as good. Being Black in America means having to be 

extra cautious about how you dress, look, or act for fear of someone thinking you’re a threat. 

Being Black in America means being roughed up by law enforcement, no matter how polite you 

are. Being Black in America means having your hands up so that they don’t shoot. Being Black 

in America means having to explain why Black Lives Matter and how that doesn’t mean that 

other lives don’t, but that those lives are not on the line. Being Black in America means living in 

fear.