COLUMN: Just Listen

OCOL0311.jpg

Tulsa residents gather at the Black Lives Matter Rally on May 31, 2020 at Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Normal. What exactly does that mean?

It’s what we are supposed to be, but not. Much of the world strives to be something far from normal, myself included. Normalcy isn’t something that I want to take a deep dive into, but there’s something endearing about actually having the option to do certain things.

Whether it’s a jog in your neighborhood, inspect your own property, wear a hood, not having to ask if your girlfriend's parents will have a problem with your complexion. Things like this are just parts of being an African American and I've accepted that.

I've also accepted that I only want that to be my experience, not the next generations. 

The margin of error is so little that it's suffocating. I know you may see BLM as a trend and the hot topic of the month, which for many it sadly will be. However, that tiredness you feel is exactly what African Americans feel everyday. The world may not be completely set out to get us, but it isn’t out to help. The game is set on hard with pre existing restrictions.

The very least people could stand to do is listen. The very least people can do is sign a petition. There’s a fight going on right now and I understand if you’re not physically partaking in it. I think the most important thing anyone can do is listen. 

Growing up it was normal to hear terms like “One of the good ones,” “Can’t swim,” and of course “You talk white.” I remember being in school at an early age having nothing in common with most of my classmates so I would do things that entertained their perception of African Americans.

To quote the short story, “The negro walks on eggshells” written by Shirley J Scott in 1963,  “As an adult Negro, you live in two worlds the white world where you make your living, the black world where you make your friends.” I hope that someday we can successfully merge those worlds together, not because we are entertaining or a token, but because we’re just another person. 

The simple favor of listening can do wonders for the world. When a black person tells you that he feels oppressed, don’t respond to him with a rebuttal. More than often he’s holding back more information than what was even said. This isn’t about one person, it's not about two or three, it’s about a generation of people and generations to come.

It may be easy to overlook the death of George Floyd after a few weeks, but there’s a problem here that’s been alive forever. Yes, it has gotten better, still I find that if only hundreds or thousands of deaths and wrongfully convicted lives is the margin of error the line needs to be cut.

I truly believe it’s our duty to try and make the world a better place for the next generations, so they can live with a new normal. Change is slow, always has been and it always will be.

No matter how you handle what’s happening in the world right now, please listen. That one simple act might be the easiest thing to do, yet the most powerful.