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To Be Black..

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

It took a few days to find the strength and will to start writing this. On top of some personal things I was facing last week, hearing/seeing another hashtag of an unarmed Black man murdered by police was icing on the anxiety cake. I, like many others in urban planning + all over the world, felt the huge weight of George Floyd's murder on our hearts, our minds, and our profession. I was numb to it at first then a string of rage-driven emotions flowed after... safe to say I wasn't in a great mental space. Social media drowned me in clips of the video and hashtags everywhere; from George Floyd to Ahmaud Arbrey to Breonna Taylor to Christian Cooper (who is alive thankfully) - it was overwhelming and too much to take in.

You don't know the lump in your throat that comes when you even think about the ever-growing list of innocent Black people that have been murdered..

You don't know the discourse of having to downplay your "Blackness" to make white colleagues feel comfortable..

You don't know the extra level of fear when you go out in BROAD daylight, at night, or hell any time of day, not knowing if you'll get to come back home..

You don't know what it's like to have someone stare in your face while wearing a t-shirt from the university of which you're an alumni then question whether you graduated..

You don't know what it's like to be harrassed for existing in "equitable" places..

You don't know what it's like to be told to calm your Blackness,

You don't know what it's like to fear for your own life plus the extra fear of the lives of your brothers, dads, uncles, cousins, etc..

You don't know what it's like to read hate comments of justification every time WE become another hashtag..

You don't know what it's like to have ancestors, grandparents that tell/show you scars from being whipped or those that were housekeepers on slave plantations..

You have NO IDEA what it's like to simply exist as a Black person in 2020... it's exhausting, frustrating, heartbreaking, and then some. I can't speak for every other Black person, but I know for damn sure even the strongest of us are simply tired of this. I'm tired of it.. I'm tired of quietly trying to explain our right to be HUMANS treated with respect.. I'm tired of hearing "I have Black friends" or "I don't see race/color" - that's essentially part of the systemic and subconscious problem. I'm no longer shielding my language or vernacular to assuage my white colleagues, white friends, white classmates, and white associates.

While I've been daunted with how to feel and what to do from a personal + professional standpoint, I found myself realizing how distorted every system; race, class, social equity, mobility access, goods/services access, education + more, has been blatantly designed for us to fail. I've known that for awhile but actually feeling, seeing, visualizing, and resonating with it is entirely different. What about