These are such unpleasant times, to be honest. Just when we’re trying to shake off corona virus’ crippling jabs, we are harshly reminded of the unabating police brutality towards people of color, especially African Americans.
I was raised in a so-called Third World country where we spent the better part of our lives and education, glamorizing the American experience. And yet now that I am here, I have never felt more scared, more uncertain, more hatred, more segregation, more discrimination and so much racism…I have never felt so negatively targeted in my life, than I do in these times.
When I had just moved to the United States, and the glittery veils were removed, I quickly picked up on the unpleasant African American experience and instantly knew that it wasn’t one that I wanted to identify with. Appallingly, I found out that identifying yourself as African made it easier to get more respect, trust, and empathy than an African American would, whether at work, school or in diverse social settings.
The African American experience is the most challenging one to have in America. African Americans tend to be falsely portrayed as uneducated, aggressive, problematic, loud, uncivilized and lazy among so many other antagonizing terms. They are falsely portrayed as a community ridden with crime, drugs and lacking the ability to better themselves.
The truth is that African Americans are doing their best to survive in a system that was created in the era of slavery and now functions on blatant systemic oppression fueled by racism. African Americans are doing their best to survive in a system not just where they were initially set up to fail, but a system that never accounted for them to begin with.
There’s that famous quote by Will Smith that is going around that says, “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”
I was in the United States when Trayvon Martin was gunned down…onto Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and all the other angels in between. The killing of George Floyd is the first time I’ve seen this much outcry from non-black people, especially the white race. I’d started to think that it was a ray of hope, but it isn’t—It’s comforting, that’s all. Hope is seeing the murderers of these unarmed victims being arrested without the world having to protest. Hope is seeing the murderers of these unarmed victims get charged and convicted for the crimes they committed against the same civilians that they should have been keeping safe.
I was raised in Uganda, but I “grew up” in America. I love this country, even in the moments when I feel unwelcome. My love for it is why I will continue to take action and do my part to fight for justice and fairness for all. You don’t forsake something you love; you fight for it.