Black Lives Matter Now: Short Essays by Express Readers on Racial Injustice in America 

We invited East Bay residents to share their thoughts and words. Here's what they had to say.

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So what do I want? There is a menu of ideas out there from body cameras, better police training and prosecution, but more than anything I want my son and all black women and men to be seen as human. Let's start there.

Sheryl Lane

Richmond


The Same High School

Philando Castile and I went to the same high school. We walked the same halls, waited patiently for the bell to ring, and may have even scored the coveted fifth floor lockers. But that's where the similarities end. As diverse as Central was, and I imagine continues to be, it was still segregated β€” often by race but definitely by privilege. I was in a group of friends, primarily middle class and college-bound, that didn't often think about the color of our skin or how it would impact our lives because none of us are Black. Philando and I may have walked the same halls, but our lives outside of Central were always bound to be different.

My sister and I have talked a lot about being brown but not Black. Often, we are the "safe" person to hire at a job, we are the "model minority." In our Indian American community, we talk about what it means to not be white: the racism, the intolerance that we have experienced. But we don't often recognize the privilege that comes with not being Black. In our communities we must also recognize that Black Lives Matter, period.

Menaka Mohan

Oakland


Nobody is Safe

For as long as I can remember, I have been a witness of the violence between police and Black people in my community. However, the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have brought to light the shocking, modern-day reality of this issue: nobody is safe anymore.

As a twenty-year-old Black woman, I am terrified that, one day, I will receive a call that one of my family members or friends is no longer here. I am troubled to know that, when I have children, I will have to explain why they are not safe in their own skin. That their story or innocence won't mean a thing in the eyes of those who are called "to protect and to serve."

Most of all, I am afraid that if something happens to any of my loved ones, I will not be surprised. Despite dozens of traumatizing and mind-numbing videos, evidence has been continuously overlooked and dismissed. We have sadly fallen victim to the mass desensitization of the death of the Black body. Regardless of if you are a cafeteria worker, if you have your child in the backseat, if you are licensed to carry, if you are innocent β€” if you are Black, you may be next.

Natalia R. Delery

Queens, N.Y.


We Are Doing Nothing Wrong

I cannot go a day without watching the news or reading a report stating a young Black male or female has been assaulted, brutalized, shot, or killed by a police officer. The usual explanations are "It looked like he/she had a weapon," or the go-to "I was in fear of my life."

Every moment we breathe, our life is on the line because of the color of our skin. Some may say, "Well if you just said sir" or ask, "Were you doing something you shouldn't have been doing or somewhere you shouldn't have been?" It's as if our Blackness immediately signals trouble.

Our elders will tell us to behave properly or act a certain way, to avoid the white glare. But I am here to tell you: We are doing nothing wrong.

Our lives, our mere existence on this planet, causes discomfort, aggression, and contempt. Ever since we have been brought to America, there has been a level of malice directed toward the Black man and woman that can only be equaled by the treatment of the Native American. Why are we hated? I have no idea. But I do know changing the way we dress, the way we talk, act in public, or walk around in this world will not matter.

Being Black is automatically being a target for harm, and I don't want any Black man or woman to blame themselves for the way the world sees or treats them. It is not your fault.

LeRon Barton

San Francisco


Surreality of Injustice

I probably don't need to tell you that there is injustice in this country, in the world. Perhaps you see it every day. Probably. I imagine it leads many people to becoming an officer β€” an urge to strive to prevent injustice, because it happened to them somehow. And it felt wrong.

In the social-media era, it is hard to escape the reality, or surreality, of this injustice. We are flooded with information on an alarming scale, to the point where we become jaded. Another targeted mass shooting, another bombing, another innocent Black child, son, father murdered. Another candlelight vigil and "riot." And nothing's gonna change. And it feels wrong, but there's nothing I can do.

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