August 11th was a pivotal day in what has felt like an endless onslaught of madness. From Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, to Heather Heyer, one of the victims of the Neo-Nazi attack in Charlottesville, VA, brutality has been knocking at our door for what feels like ages.
August 11th was terrifying, July 4th was terrifying, and tomorrow will probably be terrifying. But this is nothing new to a Black American. We have been living in a constant state of terror since reaching the shores of this country and we know how to make the best of the situation.
We have risen to the top in many spheres that we were once kept out of, have created a culture that has been adopted worldwide after having our native cultures torn from us and have somehow managed to survive in a society that places no value on our lives. From the concrete came roses.
We have never been granted the luxury of comfort, so for those who are new to the chaos, welcome.
You have a few options while living in the chaos:
- Cowering in fear, letting everyday terrify you, (we call this giving up)
- Becoming overcome by the new norm, the chaos itself, and adapting to protect yourself and the ones you care about (not a bad option if you are okay with losing who you are)
- Doing you, never forgetting who you are and making sure the ones you care about are taken care of to the best of your ability, regardless. (aka keeping it real)
As a 21 year old senior in college I have decided that the latter option suits me best. The keyword in that statement, in my opinion, is “regardless“. It is final. No matter the situation, no matter your circumstances you must make sure you follow those rules. Whether it’s Nazi’s, klansmen or zombies, whether your way of protection is through keeping food on the table, passing legislation or making sure they are properly educated, you ensure your loved ones are taken care of.
All of these options have domino effects as we all know you mimic what you see. If you were to choose option 1, those who are in contact with will soon begin to tremble and breakdown, and soon enough you will have a network full of terrified beings. Option 2 will convince everyone that their original ways were wrong, and you will have a network of people chasing a false identity. Option 3, however, has profound positive effects on the psyche of those you come in contact with. They will start caring for their own, that will spread to their network, and so on.
The saying goes, “we can’t change the world unless we change ourselves,” and the saying is true, but I prefer to phrase it, “we can change the world, as soon as we change ourselves.”
So in the wake of Charlottesville, and in the pretense of the next horrible event that will strike this country, never forget that your options of response, although slim, do indeed have lasting effects on those around you. Choose wisely, and you might just save the world.
University of Kentucky 18′
Director of Events, UK Student Government Association
Programming Intern, UK Martin Luther King Center
President, Zeta Psi Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc