Amplified Voices…Being Black in America

I wanted to preface this post with some words. I wasn’t going to post this originally because it was brought to my attention that this could be very tone deaf and insensitive coming from a white woman. It was also brought to my attention that “creating content” based on others’ pain and experiences isn’t the way to be an ally. I listened and understood and didn’t want to proceed forward.
For those of you who know me, you know I’ve always been an ally. As a dancer, it’s impossible not to be. With this being said, when I reached out to numerous friends of mine who are POC, they all expressed a desire for being able to finally share their stories, as most of my friends are from suburbs where their experiences are never even acknowledged. One friend in particular said this was the first time anyone has ever asked what her experience has been as a Black woman living in a predominately white suburb.
My intention with this post is to strictly shine light on what real people deal with outside of all the social media posts and videos we see. These are all real people who hold a special place in my heart and I want their voices amplified. Sometimes when we put the phone down and the movement isn’t visually in our hands, it can seem like it’s not reality, or it doesn’t affect us, but it is and it does. This post is to express that and show that it is very real, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. and that we all need to do our part in working towards a better and EQUAL future for all.
Please, put your phones down and actually do the work of ending racism in this country. Take a vow to be anti-racist. Read, talk, watch, listen, sign petitions, protest, make phone calls, demand change. The ones who need to do the most work and understand this movement the most are NOT the ones following you on Instagram…

(Photography by Jonathan Dixon)


american racismPIN IT“The more I reflect, the less I can comprehend. I feel inconsolably anxious, deeply deprived, angry, and unheard. I feel hated. I feel afraid. I feel disposable. Every space I enter may it be a restaurant, a classroom, a vacation, an interview, a city, a team, etc. I’ve had to worry about being mistreated, judged or denied because of my skin. People lock their doors when I pass by, I’ve been spat on, denied service, denied housing, denied opportunity because of my skin. The depths of those wounds are inexplicable…

And still, Black people, MY people, are resilient and spirited. The most genteel, cultivated, motivated, inventive, charismatic people I have ever experienced. That fills me with pride, and because my people were stolen from their land and enslaved for decades, I feel so disconnected from my roots, so far from my home. But seeing my people fight and fight and fight for each other, I have never felt more connected to who I am. I don’t know where I come from, but I’ll always know what I am made of. ”

-Mhiah

“Being Black in America means that people of all races are infatuated with your culture, especially in regards to entertainment. Being Black in America also means that you are feared and hated by almost every other race for some reason that is still unknown.”

– Marcus A.

“Growing up I learned that I am important. I wasn’t just a female, but a strong, Christian, African American female, however others wouldn’t always appreciate that. I watched my father advocate for my people for years. I joined the Ventura County chapter of the NAACP where I was taught my past, my freedom, my fight, but most importantly my rights. It’s a shame that our school system only sees Black history as slaves and thugs when we have accomplished so much.

Watching the many injustices that have taken place over my 28 years is sickening. I haven’t directly been affected but my people have, which hurts. I am them and they are me.

I stand today proclaiming that BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are human just like other races and we deserve to be treated like it.”

– Chondra

“I for sure have stories… two stories:

1. I live in Simi Valley on the East Side (a very well known area for racism). My wife was pregnant with my child at the time. We went for a walk just to get some exercise in my neighborhood and a white pickup truck rushes past us with four individuals in the car and one yelling “N*****!”. Of course, they do this and keep driving. My wife is now scared every time we go out for walks. She is always on edge.

2. There was some kind of disturbance that happened at the 7-11 on the West side of Simi. A man was arguing with one of the clerks, and the guy was not Black, by the way. I pull up to the 7-11, I guess just as the argument ended between the two parties and the cops roll up the same time I do (5-7 cars deep). At this point I am just starting to walk in. They stop me and tell me to get on the ground immediately. Of course I tell them they have the wrong guy. Then the clerk comes outside and tells them the same thing, that it’s not me. They still made me get face down on the ground while pointing a gun to my head.

With no explanation, finally they take my ID and realize they made a mistake. They told me to leave and didn’t even apologize. I had to go to the mayor and police chief to inform them of the situation… long story short, the chief forced the police department to write me an apology letter signed by all of the cops involved.

They told me I fit the description of the subject (their rationale), they said baggy jeans and a baggy shirt… I had neither.

– Marcus B.

american racismPIN IT

“It’s very critical that we all understand where we just arrived in our history. We have come to a unique crossroad where clearer lines are now being drawn on who we really are as people. Countless acts of injustice has now given us all the momentum needed to create a more progressive platform for our basic human rights. As a black man, it is promising to see that the effects of our plagued history has now reached an understanding on a global scale. But now that we have your attention and we are now reaching new levels of understanding, we must now allow these issues to fully consume us. Simply put, this is the only real shot we have to progress and with the actions displayed in the wake of all these murders…digression is no longer an option. As people, we need to communicate. There is no more room for half-stepping during needed conversations. We have reached the point where every word and action must provide clarity for one another. We all acknowledge where we come from, but in this moment we must now truly challenge the perception of our own reality and be well prepared to address a lot of our darkest history by its actual name. This is just the beginning…I am consumed, I am uneasy, I am optimistic…✊🏾”

– Jon D.

“So being a Black woman in America… as if being a woman wasn’t already shit here. I struggle with everything. Jobs have got to be the worst. I always have to use my “white voice” whatever the hell that means, in order to have and keep a job. I’m never allowed to be sad or angry or else that is my title for the rest of my life. I’m always the “resting bitch face” girl. Because I’m not smiling 25/8. I’ve been abused, bullied, pretty much the whole nine, and it all leads back to the color of my skin.

Being raised in Oxnard there is barely any Black people and the ones that are here don’t seem to deem me as Black enough, but when I’m with my non-Black friends, I’m too Black or ratchet. I’m always excepted to be the fun one and set the mood. I’m never allowed to be quiet, where as growing up I was too loud. I was “annoying” or made fun of for the same shit every one else did. It just got to a point where I accepted it. I learned at a young age to accept and respect other people’s cultures but I feel like that isn’t the same for us. I spent my childhood wondering why is Black so ugly. Why can’t I be cute? I used to lie about being other races just to feel less Black. I used to get cussed and yelled at for using slang because my mom thought talking like that I’d never get anywhere. I feel like I have to work harder for shit people get handed to them.

Everyone can get braids and do this and that but not care nor know the history of where it came from. But at the end of the day, whether I’m seen as a threat or form of entertainment, I wouldn;t change my skin color for the world.

– Sarah M.

“I’m Henry, 29, born in LA with half of my life in Crenshaw. While living there I experienced all the bad and the good. We all know about growing up in the hood and what that entails, but moving to the 805 I thought it’d be different. The lifestyle changed but the way I was portrayed did not. I was the only Black kid in my class multiple times. I’ve experienced racism in schools, work and frequent discrimination with the so-called authority figures. Growing up in LA our parents had to teach us how to act when the police were around, knowingly how they oppress our people and other minorities. It’s sad how parents have to equip their children with this knowledge to save their lives, but I’m glad they did because they made sure we knew our history with the abuse of power for law enforcement holders. We knew there was a dark side to it and they weren’t all heroes wearing capes.

As I got older I definitely had my share of this personally and luckily, I’m still here to speak about it. So whether you’re out protesting or petitioning think about the ones who aren’t here to speak about it like I am, because there’s times when I think I wouldn’t be here either and that’s who we do it for as well as our future generations.”

– Henry F.

“Being black in America is like having having a target on your back and not knowing why.

Being black in America is calling or texting your family bye when you get pulled over because you don’t know if you’ll make it home.

Being black in America is weird because everyone loves the culture but they don’t seem to love the people that created the culture.

Being black in America means you could die anyway for no reason other than your color.

But overall, being Black in America is powerful…”

– Kevin H.