I’ll be frank here: constantly explaining ourselves, educating non black people, and verbally defending our existence can get exhausting. This list of quotes and resources from black people is designed to be a tool for non black people to educate themselves and others while not expending emotional labor on the part of the black community.
If you are a black person who wants to contribute to this list click below to fill out a quick form. What you want Non Black People to Know About the Black Experience
We live in a constant state of alertness and fear four loved ones. That is exhausting to maintain in every possible way. We are Tired.Resources:
Internet? Like it’s so easy to just google but people don’t do it and expect black people to educate them but we are Tired so they just say “oh well at least I tried.” They didn’t try.
Racism isn’t new. This didn’t all-of-a-sudden just come about because of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Dion Johnson, Tony McDade, and countless others. Racism has existed longer than the country as we know it today. Racism did not end with slavery. Nor did it end with the Civil Rights Movement. I want you to know that we are tired. We’re tired of seeing black bodies dead in the street with little regard. We’re tired of kissing our family members when they leave, wondering in the back of our heads if we’ll ever see them again. We’re tired of watching senseless death after senseless death. And we’re tired of people telling us to get over it, that all lives matter (like we don’t know that already) and that we bring this treatment upon ourselves.Resources:
In order to understand the present, you need a good perspective of what happened in the past. Check out this youtube playlist for crucial events during the Civil Rights Movement. Eye on the Prize Documentary Playlist
So I usually don’t speak on political or social issues, and it’s because I don’t like to “ruffle feathers” but I realize that because of where I grew up and the lack of diversity in that area, I am the only person of color that many of my childhood friends truly know. So my opinion on these issues may matter to some people.
So in light of everything that’s going on I wanted to tell a little of my story. Maybe seeing how I was treated in the same community you grew up in will help give some perspective.
My name is Levi Terrell. I am biracial, but all people see is “Black”. I grew up with my white mother in DeSoto MO.
Population: 6,333 92% White 2.5% Black
I went to Grandview High School in “Ware” MO. From 1st Grade to 10th grade I was the only person of color in my school. Let me clarify, not just the only black person, but the only non-white person… If I wouldn’t have transferred in 11th grade, I would have been the first person of color to come up through that school system and graduate since the schools inception.
I remember the first day of first grade my mom was walking me into the building and a child was trying to get my attention from a nearby school bus window.
“Hey Black Kid!” He yelled… As a 7 year old I had never had someone summon me using my skin color. This was my first interaction with another student. at this school, It would not be the last time I was called “black kid” or worse.
I remember being around 8 or 9 years old when I first noticed a store employee following me around the store while I shopped. It was a dollar general and I had taken my allowance to buy my family Christmas gifts. My mother was in a different store in the plaza and planned to pick me up when she was done. After following me for 10 minutes she came up to me and asked if I had any money.
“Yes ma’am.” I replied… Not knowing where this was going. She then said I needed to get what I wanted and leave the store. I didn’t buy anything, I just went and sat on the curb until my mom came. I remember being confused. Why couldn’t I be in the store? This would not be the last time I was followed in a store.I remember
in middle school, nervously asking a girl I liked to go with me to the school dance, only to be turned down because her parents would not let her go with a black kid. I was embarrassed…This would not be the last time a girl turned me down because her parents didn’t approve of my melanin.
Once I got to high school I started playing sports. By this time most the kids in the school knew me. I had multiple people mention to me that I was “one of the good ones” referring to black people. But as I started interacting with kids from other schools through sports I started receiving more hate. “Get off our field Nigger”… “You’re not welcome here boy”… I chalked it up as ignorance. Never retaliated. Confrontation made be uncomfortable, it still does.
Like most I started driving at 16. Unlike most I was pulled over around 20 times in Jefferson County between the age of 16 and 18. I only ever actually received two speeding tickets. The rest, as I look back now, were just harassment. On multiple occasions I would be asked to get out of my car and sit in the police car while the officer ran my information. Guess he expected me to run? Very rarely did only one cop question me. At least one, if not two cruisers would show up within a few minutes of being pulled over. I thought it was standard procedure, again as I look back now I know it was not.
I remember being in the back seat of my (white) friends car before and getting pulled over with them. The cop directed most his probing questions to me in the back seat. Except to ask my two friends in the front how they knew me… I remember sitting on the curb another time while 4 cops searched my vehicle because they suspected I had vandalized some school busses in the area (I hadn’t). Oh and another time (again while sitting in a cop car while the officer ran my information) I saw the cops dimeaner completely change when he realized I was the Levi Terrell he had read about in the newspaper for my football accomplishments. Guess that was enough for him to trust me.
I learned to always be respectful with my words, tone and body language. ESPECIALLY around white people of authority. Because I knew everyone who was first meeting me in that community would have a pre-conceived notion about me. I make sure to take down my hood in low light situations, remove my hands from my pockets, even roll up my sleeves because I sometimes think that showing more skin will make me look more human. I have to show them I am “one of the good ones” right?
As an adult I go back to visit my home town and I still get looks. I still feel the eyes, especially when my mom and I are out together. So if you are watching everything that is going on in Minneapolis or the other states currently protesting. Understand that this isn’t just about George Floyd.
Although a man being choked to death in the street in broad daylight BY A MAN WHO HAS SWORN TO PROTECT HIM is big enough a deal to protest about. Before you condemn them as “thugs” or “ghetto” know that they have been watched, followed, called names, counted out, and harassed their entire life. They have been told to “sit back and shut up” when they followed every peaceful measure in the book just hoping someone would hear their cry and help them. They have been shown that their life is less valuable then other’s.
They have been pushed to a point where they can’t even quarantine safely! Because cops are COMING INTO THEIR HOMES AND SHOOTING THEM! (Atatiana Jefferson, Aiyana Jones, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor).
America is a beautiful place to live but it has MAJOR social issues that come from outdated and unfair systems. Even with my multiple prejudice interactions with cops I am mature enough to know that all cops are not bad. This is bigger then blaming cops. The entire judicial/government system needs to be reexamined and restructured.
For those who have reached out, acknowledging your privilege and asking how to use your voice more effectively THANK YOU!
And just in case anyone wants to pull the religious card please remember that Jesus was ALWAYS on the side of the oppressed and the hurting. “Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:23-24 NLT #icantbreathe #georgefloydResources:
For those wanting to better educate yourselves in what it’s like to be black in America I have listed a few documentaries below. But also if you know a person of color just ask them. Ask them what types of experiences they have had in their lives. We all have a story and the more you get to know our story the more you will understand our plight.
Click below for original facebook post: Levi Terrell’s Post
It’s always us black people who get stopped on the streets by the cops for no other reason than our skin color. We’re the ones who are first suspected when there’s a crime. Whether it be a life sentence carrying crime or not. It’s us the cops will harass or treat unfairly simply because they feel they can. It’s always us black women who have to make that much more noise in order to be heard.Resources:
“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” This is a quote by - Franklin Thomas.
Breakdown. People will look back in history to these days and wonder why non-black people cared so much about our race the same way some people care way too much about others gender identity or sexual orientation.
The rest of this is taken from a study which i will reference at the end.
Over the last several years, the term “thug” has become a way to describe Black males who reject or do not rise to the standard of White America. For example, NFL football player Richard Sherman was called a “thug” for his post-game interview following the National Football Conference (NFC) Championship game (. Simply because he was being loud and because of the way he was dressed he was called a thug. Literally all he was doing was answering questions in an interview and because of the way he looked and the volume of his voice he’s automatically called a thug which when used in reference to a black person is always meant to be derogatory.
Another example, During the institution of slavery, the image of Black people, specifically Black males, was of a docile character. The images of buffoonery, blissful ignorance, and juvenile angst were seen as the primary traits of enslaved Blacks. This is characterized in several portrayals of Black males of this time. The use of Blackface — a type of performance that generally used White actors wearing black make-up to portray Black people in stereotypes — became popular in the 19th century. White actors popularized minstrel shows, depicting stereotypes of Black life as foolish, messy, and overall comedic at the expense of Black culture.
There are movies where blatant mockery of black males is portrayed.
Examples of this can be found in movies such as Uncle Tom’s cabin, Gone with the wind and even the disney movie Song of the South.
These depictions of Blackness as docile and manageable reflected the ability to control the Black body and mind, creating the idea that slavery was the best position for Black people. This status of inferiority is echoed in W.E.B. DuBois’ writing of how Whites viewed freedom as a way to “spoil” and “ruin” Black people
These examples and many others can be found in the following study.
From “brute” to “thug:” the demonization and criminalization of unarmed Black male victims in America https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004736/
Jordan is hosting an antiracist book club “in the spirit of self education.” See her facebook post for mor info about the club and how to join. Please reach out by Friday June 5th, 2020.
Participating in the book club will allow you to get free pdf’s of every book on this list.
List of readings: