Social Commentary

I Can’t Hold Your Hand

I am tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted. Maybe the last few days or the last four years made you uncomfortable, but that doesn’t compare to the last 29 years for me. It doesn’t compare to the generations of people like me. See, we don’t have the privilege to refrain from thinking about the bad stuff. We don’t need headlines to remind us that there’s individual and systemic racism. We know. We live it every single day. Even when we’re not actively talking about, we’re thinking about it. It’s impossible not to.

Our skin, as beautiful and as shimmering as it is, is ribboned with cautionary tales from our ancestors; intricately weaved to remind us that our history is not distant at all, we confront it each day. Whether you like it or not, each large, long-standing, institution we interact with daily is engineered with racist idealism; education, medicine, employment, food, finances, housing, transportation, politics, laws, law enforcement, military, and prisons; systems that were designed for White comfort on the backs of Black bodies. We weren’t born with this knowledge, we were taught, and we can’t survive without it. We do our best to navigate this world, survive, and ideally thrive. When one of us succeeds, we have an unspoken oath to knock down the wall, extend a hand, and help the next person. The same applies when one of us is ruthlessly harmed or killed.

I can’t hold your hand. I just can’t. I would have gladly engaged in conversations around race relations, reformation, and history, but it wasn’t a priority. That’s a privilege. You don’t get to overwhelm me now because it’s trending. I don’t have it in me to affirm your allyship and ease your conscience. I am actively grieving. I have been for a very, very long time.

All of my life, I have never felt like enough. Not Black enough. Not Latinx enough. Not woman enough. Not man enough. Not queer enough. All of my identities are constantly under attack. It doesn’t take a break when there isn’t active press coverage. I don’t neatly fold one away so I can focus on the others. Despite the barrage of messages, policies, and actions telling me I am not enough and I don’t belong, I continue to forge on. I realized that living my truth and doing my best to survive is a radical act.

2020 was not “day one” for us. You’re unfortunately late to the game, and I don’t have it in me to catch you up. Not right now. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be actively trying to do so on your own. Take this time to do some research, educate yourselves, read some books, watch some documentaries, and when you feel more equipped, use your privilege for good. Don’t hide, don’t be silent, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or stand up for someone else. You’re not helpless, you never were. You have an enormous amount of power at your fingertips. What is happening today will always be relevant. It never stopped, not 4, 40, or 400 years ago. It’s always been here, in plain sight.

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