Talk Back: Survival Lessons
JET wants you to Talk Back. This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish. Want to make your voice heard? Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE. Read all the rules so you know how it works.
This has been the cycle for much of Black America in the millennium.
And it has made it hard to understand certain realities of the world, however, certain truths remain painstakingly evident. Our Black men, women and boys are a vivid representation of not only the gender and race divide we observe in American politics, but the fact that our judicial system, even at the basic level, is flawed and rooted in inequalities and cultural stereotypes.
As race relations have become the focal point of much of the conversation surrounding tragedies in America, there are narratives many parents are forced to have with their children. Narratives which I imagine starting or ending with “Your Black skin is something to be feared and therefore, you aren’t afforded the privilege of being seeing fully human.”
While I’m not a parent, there’s a certain grief that I’m consumed with when I think of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin. I’m no longer eager to plan baby showers or pick out racially ambiguous baby names for the day that I do become a parent. Instead, I am now consumed with thoughts of what lessons can I impart upon my children so that they aren’t another name on a growing list of hashtags.
Thus far, these lessons include:
Respect all authority, even the police despite their attempt to threaten, unlawfully arrest you and sometimes use excessive force.
Never question the police, unless you’ve been arrested and you’re asking for your one phone call.
No sudden movements.
Always keep your hands where they can be seen.
Don’t wear hoods, hoodies or anything black at night.
It’s better to be silent than to make them uncomfortable.
Conversations of diversity and inclusion will always seem like oppression, when you’re accustomed to privilege.
You will spend a lifetime trying to overcome assumptions about your character, lifestyle and identity.
The struggle for recognition will be ongoing, because society has already imposed your identity upon you.
Due to your race, there will be some situations that purpose life or death consequences so ALWAYS refer to #1 on this list.
Just because you’re allowed into certain spaces won’t always mean you’re welcomed.
Beauty is an inside job.
Our stories rarely matter, tell them anyway.
Sometimes you will have to assimilate, it’s cheaper to replace you than it is a person in management.
Completely ignore that last lesson and create your own opportunities.
When you’re overwhelmed with the pressures of being Black, know that your blackness is enough and most importantly you are enough.
Tiana Jorman is the creator of the lifestyle blog, GetTheT.com. Tiana combined her unparalleled talent of writing with history and received a B.A in cultural studies.