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Black/Indigenous Reflections on White Supremacy (During a Pandemic)

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“You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.” — Marsha P. Johnson

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen apart and put myself back together over the past few months. People have asked me how I’m doing and my answer is almost always, “Up and down.” I’m trying to keep the faith, but real talk, it’s been hard.

Like a lot of Black people, I’ve spent the past few days, weeks, (months, years…) processing deep rooted trauma as a result of witnessing how little Black lives matter in all corners of the world. It honestly feels like I’m drowning in white supremacy/colonialism/capitalism. Couple that with being single at a time when I couldn’t possibly need love and tenderness more and you’ll see why it’s a miracle if I make it through each day at all, let alone in one piece.

Last week, I was doing some journaling and wrote down any and every thought that came to mind. I burst out in tears when I wrote the words, “I can’t breathe.” I wasn’t intending to be poetic (or trite). It’s honestly the only way I can describe a lifetime of feeling crushed by oppressive systems (racism, homophobia, sexism, capitalism, ableism, fat phobia, and white supremacy, which all work together seamlessly to make life nearly impossible for a BIPOC* person like myself) not to mention the ancestral trauma that lives within me.

Recent events have brought up so many feelings I’ve suppressed my entire life just to keep moving forward. But, during a pandemic there’s no escaping them. Quarantine is like a pressure cooker that threatens to explode at any moment (and has). My hope was we’d come out of isolation a kinder and more loving world, having realized we’re all in this together. Recent events make it clear that that dream is far from reality. What gives me some hope, though, is witnessing non-Black people having tough conversations and acknowledging their privilege and responsibility in dismantling the systems that not only put various communities at a disadvantage, but explicitly target them.

As challenging as this all is, I truly believe the only way out is through. So, I’m looking inward and focusing on what’s within my control so I can hopefully, one day soon, breathe.

#blacklivesmatter ✊🏽

*BIPOC=Black Indigenous People (Person) of Color

Amy Stretten Chief of Style, All Black Lives Matter

Photos by @lyvellg