This piece is dedicated to America. For the ways it has discriminated and created injustices in the world. We are not fooled that “We the People” are only words for show. We are not deceived by the promised “American dream” that only a selected few experience. This piece is for those who suffered unjust arrests and death sentences solely because of the color of their skin.
I need to mention that I am not black; therefore, I cannot speak on behalf of a community I am not a part of. Even though I am part of a minority in America, the struggles I grew up with are nowhere near the oppressions the black community continually faces.
For example, I have never been afraid of the police, nor I have never been followed around because I looked “suspicious.” Although I cannot represent this community or fully understand their pain, it is obvious that the American system isn’t exercising the promises of the constitution and nothing is being done about it.
We used to learn about racism in its past as it was old news, how Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech flipped the switch in American ideals. Funny how that is the last thing we learned about. As if America understood its lesson and moved on. That no discrimination was going to happen again.
But now I am realizing that this is just propaganda built to blind us from the realities we face, to depict America as the educated and well-established hero making its advances before anyone else. That in America we do not have to deal with oppressions because that would never happen in the land of the free.
But the truth is America is still in its old ways, the old ways of prioritizing the lives of those they wish to please and protecting the rights of those that look the same.
Why isn’t the system acknowledging that there is a problem? Black communities suffer much more police brutality than white communities, so why isn’t anything being done to fix it? How is America going to make history if we are still living in it?
The system silences those who are bleeding instead of admitting its flaws. And when the black communities’ wounds are open, the system covers them with silence. Their voices are suppressed to the point where they cannot breathe. And once they defend themselves, the system shushes them and blames them for wanting rights. It is time the system changes, changes to what it should have been hundreds of years ago.
We are all waiting for change to occur. We all are waiting for America to open its eyes to reason and humanity. Waiting for the tireless effort to create ease. To create a life that doesn’t constantly depend on fear for survival. If I had the time and space to mention all the atrocities that happen daily to innocent black individuals like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we all know we could not keep up.
Again, I know I am not the perfect candidate to be speaking about this issue; however, you do not have to be black to realize the system is plagued with unjust reasoning. Because no matter who you are, I’m positive you don’t want to live in a country that builds its foundations on racism. Nor would you want to live in a country that gives the privilege to armed officers to act without reason and forces unarmed civilians to remain calm as their lives are placed in the hands of this rigged system.
Tala Shihab is an 18-year-old Lebanese American born and raised in Salt Lake City. She recently graduated from Rowland Hall High School and plans on attending the University of Utah this fall.