There’s much more to this powerful essay than this, but this is what struck me deepest:
“Can we just put aside all [white people] think we know about black communities (most of which could fit in a thimble, truth be told) and imagine what it must feel like to walk through life as the embodiment of other people’s fear … To be the physical representation of what marks a neighborhood as bad, a school as bad, not because of anything you have actually done, but simply because of the color of your skin? Surely that is not an inconsequential weight to bear. To go through life, every day, having to think about how to behave so as not to scare white people, or so as not to trigger our contempt—thinking about how to dress, and how to walk and how to talk and how to respond to a cop (not because you’re wanting to be polite, but because you’d like to see your mother again)—is work; and it’s harder than any job that any white person has ever had in this country. … Think about how you would respond to the world if that world told you every day and in a million ways before lunch how awful you were, how horrible your community was, and how pathological your family.”
I hate that this is the lived experience for millions of Americans, and too many of my friends. I am so sorry that I’ve ever been part of the problem, because I know in my ignorance that I have been, and I’m trying every day to learn how I can help fix it.