This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in a plethora of activities in preparation for Holton’s diversity conference in March. The whole experience of two days were meaningful to say the least, but the question that stood out to me the most asked if we, the participants, “felt safe” in this country. It was a spectrum activity, meaning that one side meant a stronger “yes” and the other side “no.” Immediately, all the black girls of the group rushed towards the “no” side. It was interesting to see such an apparent divide between the black girls and non-black girls over the issue of safety. We talked a lot about police brutality especially regarding men in our own family. We also briefly discussed the issues of sexual assault on black girls. Even after I had returned home, the question still lingered on my mind. Everyday, I come across a video or general post about the alarming rates of countless regions in the world disenfranchising black people from a myriad of things, even life. While I enjoy the fact that media publicizes these events, the pictures and videos sometimes take a mental and emotional toll on me. In the spirit of Black History month, I am trying to practice preservation. The question during our training session forced me to examine the ways in which the stresses and harsh reminders of being a black girl in America compromise my mental and emotional safety. As a child, I was always taught to protect my body but not my mind or heart. Everytime my finger hesitantly clicks on a video or picture, a piece of me breaks and I am left behind with confusion and anger. While I cannot speak for every black person in America, I can say that the worry of racial violence is a ubiquitous sentiment that bonds us in this country. It is a persisting symptom of centuries of racial oppression that has been passed down like a family heirloom, waiting on each generation to receive it.
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