I am sick to my stomach and my heart hurts thinking about the numerous, appalling, and senseless killings of innocent black adults and children. I fear for my youngest brother’s life, if he were to ever visit or come back to live in the States. I would tell him to never hold a toy gun in his hands. I fear for his side of the family, whom I consider my own. I fear for my friends. I fear for the children who won’t get to live out their lives or the ones who grow up without their parents or siblings – murdered on the street for no good reason.
Institutionalized racism is so very real and racism in general is very much alive today. I’ve experienced it myself. However, it is nowhere near as prominent as it is in the African American community, which has faced and continues to face so much untold hardship. When will we progress past our differences and evolve past this reptilian fear of all that is unlike ourselves? It’s 2016 — 52 years after public segregation in America was abolished and 151 years since the end of slavery, and people are still losing their lives and being treated like sub-humans because of what they look like (and don’t even get me started on the zealotry and prejudice against the Muslim-American community).
I love this country, I love my freedoms, and I love and respect my friends, family and countrymen that fight to keep us safe. I don’t believe sitting during the national anthem is an issue of respect for your country when your heart is hurting for the innocent dead bodies on the street. It’s an issue much bigger, and something that not everyone will understand if you and the generations in your family before you have not experienced roadblocks, barriers, judgments, and subtle differences in how you are treated and spoken to and supported in the community by both regular people and by systems and institutions ALL throughout your life. Everyone can seek to understand, however, and look outside of themselves and what they know and what they grew up with. There is an entire world outside of your own bubble, outside of your own race, religion, country, beliefs, sexual orientations and social class, and it will always be that way. Always. Anyone who is disappointed in the ongoing deplorable treatment of their own kind has every right to exercise their freedom of speech to say so, and if it starts a conversation about the real problems that face America, that is wonderful.