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What The March Meant to Me

Women's rights are important and I want my boys to not only see, but experience strong women using their voices to fight injustice. Like many, this election cycle has triggered certain emotions for me: anger, sadness and empowerment. I take great pride in knowing that raising young men to respect women is not only a necessity but should be the norm.

The outpouring of women banding together to march and protest has made me so proud to be a woman—yet, somehow, the feeling is bittersweet. I began to ponder this question: Why has it taken this particular election to produce this level of solidarity?

Should not the countless crimes against people of color from last year alone have triggered a similar onslaught of concern that is now being demonstrated? Truthfully, many people of color have been in a rage before now. Many of us have already been afraid. James Baldwin said it best, "To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant rage." The Women's March, although necessary, feels bittersweet because it echoes a sad societal truth that black lives only matter when white lives do. And that's unfortunate.

The morning after the election, I was in my car, and I saw two white women hugging, consoling each other. I came to understand that they were discussing the outcome of the election. They had tears in their eyes. They were grieving … heartbroken.

My hope is that this passion for change ... will not end with the Women's March, and that our anger—whether newly acquired or carried as long as we can remember—will ignite a passion and a tangible shift for future generations.

If I have to be honest, seeing these women grieving this openly, saddened me. It saddened me to realize that I hadn't witnessed this level of grief over the atrocities that had occurred during the killings of numerous unarmed men and women of color in past years. It would have been nice to see these same white women hugging and consoling each other following the murders of Sandra Bland or Korryn Gains. People of color have been saying that this country has work to do, and it seems that up until now, our cries have seemingly gone unheard. I’ve said it before, Trump didn’t happen overnight. While the outcome of this election may have come as a shock to many, it definitely has not for most people of color. It’s not that surprising that this country has yet to heal from its racist past. Truthfully, when white women approach me in shock, wondering how Trump is now our president-elect, my initial response: “The same way a police officer can murder a 12-year-old black boy and not see jail time.”

So, dear white women, welcome to the party. A couple of months back, my youngest son and I were coming out of the grocery store, and this white woman approached us and began telling us how much she just loved “us.” How she just loved our skin and so on and so forth. She then, went into this monologue about “oppression” and how black men have to fight the oppressor. It was really overwhelming. After a couple of minutes of her educating me on the state of my people, she bid me farewell, and I was left overloaded and exhausted. Here I was just trying to be a carefree black girl, shopping for kale, and suddenly, I was bombarded by this overzealous character and her need to educate me. What’s my problem with her approach? I had a few.

Why preach to the choir? Hopefully, the same speech that she so passionately needed to orate in the Whole Foods parking lot, will be echoed to her family members or friends that may really need to hear it. Talking to people of color about the horridness of this election is pretty pointless and counterproductive to true change. If you're not ready or willing to have those difficult conversations with your family members and friends who voted for Trump, please spare me your performance. If you're not willing to use your privilege or whatever platform that you may have to engage in these difficult conversations, your privilege and platform is void of value. I’m sure that the woman who stopped me in the grocery store parking lot meant well. However, that conversation wasn't for me.

Lastly, as crazy as it is that Donald J. Trump is our 45th president today, I remain hopeful that it will mark a new era of awareness of others. The veil has been pulled away for many. My hope is that this will trigger a love for each other that has never been exhibited in years prior.

My hope is that we will begin to truly care for one another, that we will weep with those who weep and truly mourn with those who mourn, even when it doesn't affect us personally. My hope is that we will listen and protest and march with those who may not share the same skin, knowing that if it hurts one, it will eventually trickle down and hurt us all.

Marching is necessary. Great change has happened because people have marched. My hope is that this passion for change and awareness of others will not end with the Women's March, and that our anger—whether newly acquired or carried as long as we can remember—will not burn out but will ignite a passion and a tangible shift for future generations.

It's true—the outrage, anger and passion for change that many are feeling today simply echoes what people of color have felt all along. This country has much work to do. Perhaps the march is the beginning of that work.

This was first published on Brandi's blog, Not So Private Parts.

Photo by Nicole Gracen Photography.

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