Opinion: Black People Simply Want Justice and Equality
Note: The following essay was crafted by Jhariah Wadkins, a senior communications studies major in Kent State University's College of Communication and Information.
Recently, I’ve been going back and forth between feeling numb to everything that’s going on since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer or crying about it. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being scared of the ones that are supposed to protect us. Seeing that there have been protests consistently throughout the last few weeks gives me the hope that we will continue to put pressure on our police system and government officials.
At first, I was thinking negatively about whatever fires have been caused to corporation buildings, and I looked down upon them. Until I thought about how America was built on the backs of Black people, I realized that we have every right to burn it down and start over. There have been moments where I have thought of violence because I am tired of talking. I’m tired of having to ask for the respect that should have been given to me at birth. I’m tired of having to see more Black people killed by police day by day when there have been white murderers who walk free! I’m tired. Yet, I know I cannot simply resort to violence because as a Black man, my retaliation would possibly get me killed or put behind bars. It’s exhausting. The fact that I am sometimes scared to truly do what I feel because I could possibly further contribute to this malicious cycle is what saddens me.
While it is extremely disheartening that numerous Black men and women have had to die for us to get to this point, I am glad we’re here. We are living in a very tumultuous period, but this has to be the tipping point for change. The consistency that I have seen from the Black community and other allies gives me much hope. We need to be the last generation that suffers from unjust acts against us. I believe that we can inflict change, and I am so thankful to see many members of my community protesting, donating and doing their part to make sure we make substantial progress as Black people in America.
As a Black college student, I have grown tired of subtle acts of prejudice and bigotry on and around campus. From uncomfortable white frat parties with many saying the “N” word to being very frightened when pulled over by police, there is continuous strain on me as a Black man throughout campus. I am sick of feeling this way. I am tired of having to hold my tongue in conversations with white students in order to keep them comfortable. I am looking forward to making more people uncomfortable and encouraging them to grow a new perspective.
Seeing a lack of representation in various avenues across campus is often discouraging, but it also lights a fire within me to uplift and amplify the voices within the Black community to make changes that we feel are necessary. With all the recent events, I believe it will be important to continue to build on this momentum. While some see me as a popular person on campus, sometimes I feel as if I am not doing enough to uplift my people as a collective. Looking back at my experience in the Academic S.T.A.R.S. program, I remember learning much more about my history and the strong heritage Black people come from. I look forward to further reverberating the messages and the history I learned during my experience to uplift others.
To my white friends, the illness of racism may not have exactly started with you, but it will end with you. Check your friends, family or anyone on the issue of racism. You do not need us to be present to speak up for us. Do it in your own communities, and I firmly believe you will begin to see changes. If you choose not to speak up, then you are part of the problem.
To other young people ... PLEASE KEEP THIS UP. Make sure to take care of yourself, but please keep this fight going. We as a collective cannot afford to let up. We are only getting to the tipping point of how much change we can bring and how much power we have. The power is within us, and I am so happy to see so many of us using it. Keep going.
After all that Black people have been through in America, we are simply looking for justice and equality. Imagine the atmosphere if we were looking for revenge. I pray America never has to face the latter.