Everyone processes emotions in different ways. I’m a writer. I write. I speak because if I don’t sometimes I feel like the pain will break me into pieces. I’m prolific; most of the time it doesn’t take me long to relive my mind because I’m really clear about what I want, what I mean and what I don’t need. What I don’t need is this: more bullshit. I have heard a few people today say that we should let it go, that slavery is over, that the civil rights war in our great and glorious nation is done and I and those like myself should move on. 

Maybe some of you would understand if I put this into perspective for you. Slavery wasn’t that long ago. Segregation wasn’t that long ago.

My grandfather grew up in Florida, and one of the most influential people in his life was a former slave. He taught him about evolution, and pride and perseverance. That man was hung in Florida. So he taught my grandfather the most important lesson of all: if you are too proud, they will hate you. If they hate you, they will hurt you. 

When his daughter, my mother, was born in 1961 the freedom riders were fighting all over the south. People were being terrorized in their home towns and churches long before Americ considered anything like waging a war on terror (and still that continues). My mother worked in manufacturing, which was a male dominated field and as a black woman she ran circles around every forklift driver in her plant. She worked her ass off to provide for my brother and I, missed tucking us in sometimes, missed my brother’s first steps. Still she had to go through bullshit at every turn because people like to make racist remarks and try to sabotage people. In manufacturing that’s more than hurt feelings, that’s potential death.  

Your “past” is my present. 

I shouldn’t be able to listen to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and realize that what they were talking about almost 40 years ago is JUST as relevant now as it was then. It is not just black people; there are more than just us. My Latino people. My Arabic people. My Indian people. My Pakistani people. My Native American people. People who are living this melinated existence know that we STILL haven’t overcome and I don’t know in my heart or believe anymore that the methods we have so far taken are effective.  

Stop telling us what is relevant for our lives and LISTEN for once. Maybe you’ll learn something.

Until that day when you are ready to listen, you can kiss my black ass. 

Bet on that,

René 

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