Rachel Lindsay is an attorney who rose to fame as the first and only black lead in the history of the "Bachelor" franchise. She currently co-hosts the "Higher Learning" podcast with Van Lathan where they discuss "black culture, politics, and sports." Lindsay regularly uses her platform to speak out on racial injustice and systemic racism. In this personal essay, she reflects on nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery's deaths. She examines white privilege, the need for change and what black men and women across the country are fighting for.
Imagine living in a country knowing that the moment you step outside the door people will see your color before they see you.
Imagine living in a country knowing that you are going to work twice as hard for half as much.
Imagine living in a country where certain stereotypes and preconceived notions walk through the door before you do.
Imagine living in a country where you are terrified of the very people that are sworn to serve and protect you.
Does it feel heavy? Do you feel as if you can't breathe? Imagine this your reality ... a reality you cannot escape because this is America for black people.
Although it seems as if America is just now waking up to these realities that black people have been facing, blacks have been waking up to this actuality since they first stepped foot in this country.
I have been sitting back and watching all the events that are unfolding in our country this week. But there is one thought that I keep going back to ... why is everyone just now waking up to the injustices against black people that have been running rampant in our society for centuries?
It's honestly hard to believe that white people have been completely oblivious to the way blacks have been treated in this country or is that you simply chose to accept it and turn a blind eye to it?
This past Saturday I had the privilege to participate in a peaceful protest with my husband and our friend. I am no stranger to protesting but this was Bryan's first experience; and he was initially apprehensive to protesting based on the negative portrayal in the media.
It was important for me to explain the purpose of the protests and my prior experience with protests. I detailed to Bryan my first time marching in Dallas after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. Attending the march by myself, I remember rallying around Dallas City Hall listening to Michael Eric Dyson speak out against the injustices that blacks face in this country and how we must take collective action to fight for our rights. His passionate delivery will always be embedded in my mind, and the rally sparked my hunger to protest and use my voice for justice.
Since communication has always been the foundation of our relationship, expressing this past experience to Bryan was significant to us for the present and the future.
We often discuss how we will raise our biracial child in this world and this protest is marching for their rights as well. This truly resonated with Bryan and he fully invested himself in the protest because he knew this was not just for him or me but also for our future.
Marching in unity within a sea of diversity was powerful and beautiful as we all chanted, "Black Lives Matter." Protesting, shouting, and crying together released a deep-rooted emotion within me.
As we were protesting, I was thinking about what it is to protest ... to express your disapproval or objection towards something. And although we were protesting against police brutality and social injustices, we were doing much more than protesting. We were marching to be seen, to be valued, to be treated equally, and to just feel safe to be black.
When we finished that protest, I felt powerful and invincible. There was a fire burning inside of me because our passion had purpose and hope. That feeling, however, quickly dissipated as the protest ended, the bubble burst, and the harsh reality of being black slapped us in the face.
As I came off that high feeling like our actions were making a difference, I was immediately reminded that there are groups of people that are apathetic to our struggle. As protesters our voices were only being heard and seen by those willing to listen and empathize.
Walking away from the protest and back towards our home over the bridge, the cries of "Black Lives Matter" were muffled by the sounds of music, cheers, and revving of boats and yachts. To these people it was just another day to pull out the yacht while we were just asking for the bare minimum -- to just matter. They were unbothered by what was happening on the other side of the bridge just a few blocks away.
As I stood on that bridge, stuck in between two worlds, I realized in that moment that if you are ignoring us then you are choosing to stay ignorant. It is easy for white people to ignore what does not impact them when they are not oppressed by the same issues that burden me, as a black person. That, is your white privilege.
When I wake up every day and look in the mirror I see a black woman who is not afforded those same privileges. I don't have a choice about being black. It is not something I get to ignore. It is not something I can escape. It is who I am and who I am proud to be.
I scroll through social media and see posts, tweets, and pictures from the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, these images and words are powerful with deep meaning; but how crazy is it that MLK's quotes, letters, speeches are still relevant today? These profound words are from the 1950s and 1960s, and they are still applicable to our society as it stands. It is 2020, and we are still fighting for the exact same thing.
Despite these injustices, we are not fighting for revenge but equality. Despite the oppression, we are still strong and resilient continuing to fight and stand up to the system. Despite the blatant ignorance and racial stereotypes, we are proud.
Some of you may be tired of hearing the discussions and protesting about racial inequalities, but imagine how tired we must be from experiencing it. I am glad that America decided to wake up, but how long will it last?
Is it the trend of the day soon to be a moment of the past? I do not have the answer, but I do know that at this moment we have your undivided attention.
Therefore, it is imperative that you understand we are done being ignored, mistreated, and misrepresented in this society. You need to recognize that we all do not wake up and go about our lives in the same way. You need to acknowledge the reality that centuries of injustices have oppressed us in fashion that has never allowed us to be the same.
And now that you are awake and aware, it is your responsibility to act on that awareness to be better as Americans and to uphold the ideals this country claims to possess.
If it did not happen in your grandparent's generation or your parent's generation, then let's make sure that it happens in this one so we can mold the next generation. The only way to make this happen is through voting to demand reform, through education to understand the past and the present, through a willingness to unlearn societal behaviors, through difficult conversations and through truly opening our hearts.
I do have hope for the future, but you will have to excuse my skepticism as my hope is blurred by 400 years of oppression.