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IMAGINE THIS (YOU’RE NOT FROM AMERICA): Imagine you’re in grade school and you’re beginning to learn about American history. You’ve heard much about the wars and the falsification of Christopher Columbus discovering America (your teacher was kind enough to tell you the truth). Today’s lesson you’re going to learn about the Black American. You and your classmates open up your books and begin to read about slavery and how Blacks were ripped from their homes, put onto boats (many whom didn’t survive) and worked in fields for hundreds of years. For weeks, your class dissected the horrors that Blacks had to endure: the beatings, the lynching, and the separation of family, the rapes, the washing of their own history; basically, everything your small little minds could barely handle. After weeks of learning about slavery, your class discovers that a President abolished the atrocity and the slaves were free to go (sigh of relief). Then you find out about the Jim Crow laws and great Black men who began to lead a movement (your book only has one man though – Martin Luther King Jr.). Your class sits in front of the TV and watches America literally wash black bodies down their streets, you witness the country blow children up– specifically, four little girls in a church, and even drown them – Emmett Till. You’re on the verge of tears because your innocence cannot fathom the hurt and pain that you’re seeing with your very eyes. 1 Black girl named Ruby Bridges, 9 from little Rock Arkansas, then James Meredith, then the screen goes black. And as the next scene appears, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 comes into place. Most of the leaders from before were murdered but you realize their deaths were for a cause greater than them. After the film, you feel better. You know that Blacks in America are ok now. That Black Lives Matter. And with your small little self, you run home to tell your parents what you learned. That America saved Blacks from what they did to them. History from the books that sat on your desk. Books that speak truths or so they say. For some, that is all the history that you will ever know. Surface histories that tell one that everything is ok. Yet, Imagine going home as a black child to tell your folks what you’ve learned. And as you tell them the stories, you catch them looking at each other – frightened by what you’re telling them. And they tell you “let’s talk”. And with great hesitation, they begin to tell you the truths. Indeed, the history you’ve learned did happen. But it isn’t over. You find that blacks are killed by the police and by peers that look like them. How did many people who came to America as hostages become savages? How did they become their captor? Then you hear the psychological effects that your books left out. How Willie Lynch taught hundreds of owners to war their slaves against one another. How colorism is a tool used to separate. How the separation of families are still occurring – you hear that 1 and every 3 black born today will serve some time in prison during their lifetime.  How blacks are one of the poorest races living in poverty – a race that built this country’s wealth off of the slave trade. How many families who wanted to home own were redlined and if a black moved next door to others then the surrounding properties would lose value adding more fuel to an already blaze of hatred. Fast forwarding to today, you see that there is a large abundance of black on black crime. Taking the time out, you see that these statistics in America are almost at the same of whites but that isn’t talked about. You see that much of the country is still segregated by race – classism. You notice that their neighbors look like them and understand that black on black crime pertains to thy neighbor. Each one resembles the next. And then you find that private prisons are funded more than education in black communities. So not only are blacks becoming victims to criminal manipulation, their education levels are low because their communities don’t invest in them. Your parents could see what they were telling you was too much so they hugged you and told you to let your dreams take you to another beautiful world. EXCEPT, you couldn’t sleep – you cried instead. The next day, you went into class and begin telling your classmates what you learned. “What are you talking about, there’s no more suffering in America, if it was they would leave”, a classmate shouted. “And where would a person go whose country hates them and has no home”? No one answered. You sat back in your chair defeated, knowing your voice fell on deaf ears, whispering to yourself, “Black Lives MATTER”.

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