“We are More than the New Trend”
June 10, 2020
By Tashana Cain
I didn’t always know the burden and heaviness that came with being a black person in this world.
It wasn’t until I went away to University that I really learned how my people still struggle to exist in the world today. Growing up, my mom did the best she could to teach me about my history and all of the struggle and resilience that came along with it. As a black teenager growing up in mostly white spaces, I started to feel like my blackness was something that made me stand apart from others. With very few people of color in my spaces, I felt very isolated and did not feel like I could easily connect with my peers whose worldview and way of life was so different than my own. It wasn’t until I went to University that I was able to have language for the feelings I’ve had for so long. In 2015 I went to a Missions conference in St. Louis, Missouri called Urbana and that was when I came face to face with so many of the ways that my people have had to fight in the United States, and that reality broke me but also set a fire inside of me. I remember being at Urbana and listening to activists speak about what it looked like to stand up for justice for brown and black people and I remember feeling like there is nothing I would rather do but stand up for my people. But if I am being honest, standing up for justice as a black woman can be exhausting. Advocating for black lives in a world riddled with white supremacy is tiring. It’s the small, everyday things that add up. It’s seeing mostly all white educators be the experts in almost every class I take in Teacher’s college. It’s doing a presentation on race for a class and having one of your classmates question if race is truly a factor in the disproportionate ways that black children are suspended in the school system. It’s feeling like all eyes are on you, every time race comes up in a conversation. It’s feeling like there is no place for you in the spaces you occupy because no one seems to understand what it feels like to navigate the world through your eyes. And on top of this exhaustion comes the anger and hopelessness that comes with seeing your people being continually mistreated and killed.
The killing of George Floyd and so many black lives has caused the world to stand in solidarity against injustice. People are sharing posts about their death all over social media. But I can’t help but wonder where were all these supposed supporters for black lives when these people were alive? Why does it take death for people to finally wake up? I am tired of seeing the death of black people trending on social media while so many people are unwilling to stand up for these same lives when black people are alive. There is so much I could say about what’s happening around the world. But if you really want to stand up for injustice then so much more is required of you then posting on social media when things are trending. What are you willing to do when no one is watching? How are you willing to treat people when no one sees? How are you going to view and think about black people in your everyday life?
I leave you with this quote from the Pedagogy of the Oppressed written by Paul Freire:
Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is solidary; it is a radical posture. True solidarity with the oppressed means fighting at their side to transform the objective reality which has made them these “beings for another”. The oppressor is solidary with the oppressed only when he stops regarding the oppressed as an abstract category and sees them as persons who have been unjustly dealt with, deprived of their voice, cheated in the sale of their labor – when he stops making pious, sentimental, and individualistic gestures and risks an act of love. True solidarity is found only in the plenitude of this act of love, in its existentiality, in its praxis. To affirm that men and women are persons and as persons should be free and yet to do nothing tangible to make this affirmation a reality, is a farce (p. 50)
If you want to learn more about the reality of what many coloured people experience in the world now and in the past, then do your research! It is important that you aren’t always relying on black people to guide you, it means a lot when you are willing to do the work to educate yourself on things that matter.
Tashana Cain is a student at Queen’s University and loves learning, baking and writing. Tashana is a graduate of Brock University where she was part of the InterVarsity community and she attended Urbana 15 and 18. This July she’ll graduate with an education degree focussed on Primary and Junior education. You can read more of Tashana’s reflections on life, faith and justice on her personal blog at thejoyspace.weebly.com
22 May 2020