Hello Ladies and Dudes,
#ICantBreathe is a hashtag that was started after the murder of Eric Garner. For those of you living under a rock, Garner was choked to death by NY police. The cop who did the choking was not indicted. This caused protests to continue, numbers to grow and voices to be heard.
I’m writing from the perspective of a white-skinned Middle Eastern woman. I’m twenty-five and even though my parents are immigrants from Iraq they white-washed me as best they could. Which means that I have had the privilege of being seen as white (unlike my sister who looks very much not-white. I always mention this because it’s amazing how skin tone changes even within the same family and how people see her differently than me because of it).
With that said, the reason I use the hashtag #TheyCan’tBreathe is because it’s people of color who cannot breathe. It’s people with a certain skin tone that are targeted. It doesn’t matter where my family is from and it doesn’t matter that I grew up in a home with Middle Eastern food, music and language. What matters is that I look white and so I am white.
I can only speak from my perspective, which isn’t one that’s well versed in the struggle of people of color. Which means, I have only this to say: It saddens me to see fellow humans beings so quick to wish death, and in their eyes justice, upon those who are not guilty or deserving of such a punishment.
We wonder where internalized racism plays a role, it’s in the justice system. So many of us are so used to our privilege, even though we struggle and life is hard, that we can’t imagine anyone has it worse. Because it cannot be imagined people can’t sympathize and so they wish ‘justice’ on Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The issue: The ‘justice’, the murder’ that was committed against Brown and Garner is less likely to happen to those with money, power and white skin.
People don’t want to be the bad guys. They don’t want to think themselves as racist. Truth is, we’re all conditioned to be something, to be someone and for some to be racist, sexist or homophobic. I was raised in a home that was anti-LGBT, anti-women and anti-anyone who wasn’t right-winged-conservative-Catholic.
My parents were prejudice against many people but it never took with my sister, my brother Mark or myself. I can’t say so for the rest of my siblings.
One of my younger brothers once said “I don’t like black people.”
“Because the one black kid at my school is annoying.”
“So, let me get this straight, you meet one person with a certain skin color and they represent all black people?”
He has no response. He’s so used to stereotyping, to putting people in a box he doesn’t understand that there’s a whole world out there. I’ve heard my siblings making fun of people from the Middle East. Hello! That’s them. They’re literally so blind to everything because my parents conditioned them to be so.
My Middle Eastern parents were so ashamed of their culture that they tried to erase it and so they conditioned their kids to be “white.” Which ended up turning most of their kids into sexist, homophobes who demand people of color live up to their white standards or they’re not good enough.
My own family, a serious waste of space (with the exception of the youngest who’s fourteen, there’s still hope for him. Keep in mind there’s ten kids and only three of us have any sense of logic).
I can’t speak for the black community, or try and pretend that I know what it’s like to be a person of color. With that said, I’m going to link my favorite people on Twitter who are leading the protest movement in a wonderful direction. They’ve been great educators and they inspire me to keep moving forward.
Have a lovely day!
Click on the pictures to see their Twitter Accounts