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2020 Through My Eyes

Posted on 6/3/2020 8:48:36 AM

Piece written by rising senior Early Childhood Education and Special Education major Brianna Blair (above on far right with family)

Hi everyone! Today I had the opportunity to speak online to some professors, peers, fellow student-athletes, as well as athletic staff, on a couple of different online forums. I typed up my words to share with those who would like to listen.

As a biracial individual who grew up in a predominantly white area, it would be wrong not to address the social justice issues that have been crippling our nation within the past week. While it may seem as though these injustices have come to the forefront recently, it is important to remember that these are the same injustices that our nation was built on.

When asked if I have encountered racism, my knee-jerk reaction is to say, “No.” When I answer, “No,” this means that I have never been harassed, beaten up, or targeted in a traumatic fashion due to my race. Then I think about the micro-aggressions that have been embedded throughout my entire life. “Well, you don’t act black.” “You’re the whitest black girl I know.” “Well, you don’t count.” All of these phrases discredit a part of who I am, whether they are intended to, or not. As if my feelings are any less valid because “I’m only partially black.”

To quote my older sister, “White privilege does not mean that your life hasn’t been, or never will be difficult. It means that the color of your skin is not one of the things that make it harder. It means you will never have to feel fearful walking down the street, buying groceries, holding a cell phone, going for a run, or resting in the comfort of your own home.” Those are my older sister’s words, and I could not have said it any better myself.

To all of the white people or non-black people of color asking what they can do to help: use your voice. To all of those who have seemingly ignored or turned a blind eye to the systemic racism that continues to destroy our country; your silence is deafening. White privilege is not knowing that you’re hurting others, and not listening when they tell you. If you have chosen to sit back and watch idly as African-Americans continue to battle for basic human rights; rights that you would never have to imagine fighting for, then you are part of the problem. To quote Elie Wiesel, “What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.”

As a final thought, I would like to remind all of you that I attend a Catholic University, where many are passionate about their religion. Christianity and racism do not mix. You cannot say that you love God, yet ignore when his children are being brutally killed. You cannot say that you love God, yet sit back silently as your brothers and sisters are fighting for their basic freedoms. You cannot say that you love God, yet hate people because of the color of their skin.

I am going to post some resources below for those who wish to seek further information or donate to make a change. Thank you to everyone who listened and thanks to Father Carl and Cabrini’s Athletic Department for allowing me to share my thoughts with my peers. Hopefully, we can all continue to educate ourselves and educate each other.

Relevant books:

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X As Told To Alex Haley
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • The Souls of Black People by W. E. B. DuBois
  • Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • Understanding Mass Incarceration by James William Kilgore
  • White Rage by Carol Anderson
  • Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Relevant Films:

Currently on Netflix

  • 13th
  • American Son
  • Dear White People
  • See you Yesterday
  • When They See Us

Currently on Hulu

  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • The Hate U Give

Ways to donate:

Message originally shared at Virtual Peace Pole Gathering on June 2, 2020.