Written by David Segun, Edited by the Dávila Kafe Team
When I was approached with the opportunity to write this article, I felt confident it wouldn’t take much trouble for me to write on the concept of strength. Given my athletic background, I’ve been privileged to be a dual-sport collegiate athlete and competitive crossfit athlete, even qualifying for the 2020 CrossFit Games this past year.
In light of recent events in the United States, I would be doing myself and anyone who reads this a disservice if I didn’t discuss a unique type of strength: This strength that I am referring to will alienate you at times, and will project you as “different” in the eyes of some. This particular type of strength may even come at the cost of friendships and long standing relationships. The strength I speak of is the strength to speak up against racism–unequivocally.
The strength I speak of is the strength to speak up against racism–unequivocally.
It is an unfortunate truth that racism is embedded in the foundations of this country. As a Black man in America, I have learned to keep a guard up whenever I am in the general public for fear of looking suspicious. In fact, I have a personal “checklist” of dos and don’ts to protect and preserve my life. We have seen racism manifest itself over and over again with people of color as collateral. We’ve seen, over and over again, excessive use of force used on people of color by law enforcement; we’ve seen Black bodies abused, mutilated, and undervalued. In America, racism is not the exception, it is the standard. Black people are unable to enjoy the simple comforts of relaxing in our own homes without fear of death or even jogging outdoors without the worry of being targeted and murdered.
Racism is a heavy subject. I get it. It may make you cringe, it might make you feel guilty and incredibly uncomfortable at times. Readers of this article may have family, friends, or significant others who don’t believe that racism is still alive and active in this country. They, therefore, stay quiet to avoid “unnecessary” conflict. However, to be silent is to capitulate; your silence is violence. Your silence is just as dangerous as Gregory and Travis McMichael who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood or the police officers who watched Derek Chauvin press his knee into George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while he begged for mercy and called out his dead mother’s name. Although you may never pull a trigger, censoring yourself and hiding away in your unaffected reality will result in the death of many more people of color in this country.
Your silence is just as dangerous as Gregory and Travis McMichael who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in cold blood or the police officers who watched Derek Chauvin press his knee into George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while he begged for mercy and called out his dead mother’s name.
When I see men that look like me being killed over the color of their skin, or when I see women who look like my sisters killed over the color of their skin, it is a crippling feeling. All the strength in the world dissipates and I can’t help but feel powerless. To my white readers: racism is real, alive, and deadly. It must be eliminated from our society. People of color will never stop speaking up until it is eradicated, but we need your voices too.
The lives of my family members, and your friends and coworkers of color are more important than anything you could “lose” over addressing racism in your circles. I want future generations of Black and Brown people in this country to live without fear of being judged or attacked. White America, YOUR sustained solidarity and action is required if our nation is ever to be one for the people by the people.