When I see the image of Officer Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck, I can’t help but think of how I would do the same thing to my goats so they would lay down calmly while their hooves were being trimmed.
Except I made sure my goats could breathe.
As a bi-racial woman who knows first-hand what it’s like to benefit directly from racial privileges through my white and Mexican ethnicities, I feel it is my responsibility to be self-aware of these privileges and speak up for those who are treated like their race and ethnicity are a threat to society and subsequently do not have the same access to these privileges.
Mexican culture is generally embraced and celebrated across the Lone Star State, which means I have received little to no racial discrimination for my heritage. San Antonio alone is a hotbed of preserved Mexican tradition and the Hispanic culture remains alive and thriving in all corners of, not only this city but many more cities in Texas. I have always been proud to be of Latin descent and I can openly, publicly show this pride without fearing for my life. I can shop for home decorations that beautifully echo the Hispanic culture at many major retailers. I have been able to carry my Spanish last name without becoming a target for racial slurs. Along that same vein, I can put my Spanish last name on a resume without worry that it will be a barrier to getting a call back from the employer. I can simply speak the Spanish language and some guys will even think it’s “sexy.” Unlike blacks, I have reaped the benefits of racial privileges on both spectrums of my race.
On the flip side, as a person who has faced discrimination simply because I could not control that I was born a female, I am in a unique position to rally behind people who cannot control that they were born black. Because, while I will not pretend to intimately understand racial discrimination, I nevertheless deeply empathize with the deep-rooted shame and fear that is only borne out of an inherent, inescapable piece of your personhood being brutally transformed into a curse.
I grew up in a Christian, conservative household. And because I was born a female, I was subject to extreme ideologies that were supposed to keep me forever subservient to men. My sole purpose was to become a wife and a mother and my body was to only be used in service to my husband and for bearing children. I was taught that a woman was sinning if she left her father’s house before marriage. To develop feelings for a guy without the explicit approval of my father was also considered sinful behavior. If a man “lusted” after me (i.e. checked me out), then it was always my fault for wearing “revealing” clothes or for wearing “seductive” makeup. It was considered rebellious and therefore likened to witchcraft, for a woman to even have a career.
Simply put, I was trapped in systemic discrimination that was perpetuated by religion. At first, my response was no response. I agreed with and even happily upheld what was expected of me. Eventually, though, every fiber in me started screaming against this twisted system but I would bite my tongue, lay down, and take it. Because, after all, this was how “things should be done” and who was I to argue with the Almighty? I had been conditioned for years to simply nod, agree, and obey no matter what. Any opposition would not be tolerated for I was a woman, easily swayed and thus in need of an authoritative head. But before long I began to genuinely question if this was the way things should be done. I grew tired of biting my tongue and enduring the system that was pitted against me simply because of my gender. I silently “protested” by researching other theologies in secret and inwardly deciding for myself what I believed. When smiling and nodding brought me to tears, the silent protests turned verbal as I would challenge these sexist ideologies against the powers that be. When verbal protests yielded no results, I dried my tears and rioted. I stopped being quiet. I committed the egregious “sin” of disrespect and raised my voice, yelling as I stood my ground with no regard for the consequences. And the consequences came hard and heavy. But no amount of verbal, emotional, mental, and even physical abuse would keep me quiet. The rioting ended when I finally set ablaze to what little was left inside that kept me trapped in the system and I ultimately left, burning bridges that are still smoldering years later and I have never looked back.
The difference between my story and the millions of black narratives from the past and present is that I was able to escape my systemic discrimination and finally build a normal, healthy life for myself. But the discrimination black people face, perpetuated by racism, is tightly woven into our society and judicial systems, which is something no one can simply escape.
To anyone who believes that the Black Lives Matter movement is a lie or unimportant, I say this: take a long, hard look at your life and truly examine if you have or have not been on the receiving end of discrimination. Whether it was, or still is, based on your gender, sexual orientation, religion, political stance, or simply anything that was exploited to further any unjust treatment of you as a person. Because discrimination doesn’t stop at race. It can be used to reach into anything in order to manipulate and take control over someone’s life. If you know that pain, then what is stopping you from fighting for this pain to end for your black brothers and sisters?
If you can honestly say you have not experienced discrimination and still oppose the Black Lives Matter movement, then why would you ever want to deny human beings the same level of access to the very privileges you enjoy simply because their skin color is different from yours?
It is because of my privilege that I stand for black lives to gain the same amount of equality and privileges as the average white American. And it is because of my own experience with systemic discrimination that I recognize and empathize with their pain and will fight for their pain to end.
All that said, black lives matter.