For reasons that are rooted in supremacy thinking, dark-skinned Black people are often unjustifiably treated as less than human.
Denied our human rights, heavily policed, unfairly incarcerated; stereotyped as dangerous, criminal, dirty, uneducated, and aggressive, we not only have to work harder to gain success, but we have to do so within the confines of a system designed to oppress us for no other reason than being born Black.
More than that, even when we've reached success, our experiences, voices, issues, and concerns are under-represented across mainstream television, movies, magazines, books, hiring practices at major corporations, news channels, and more.
Most people know this is problematic, but it never ceases to amaze us the number of people who will come out in droves to argue otherwise.
To be honest, none of it is cute, but in collaboration with a variety of my dark-skinned Black friends and family members, these are the top 6 problematic things we all wish would be cancelled going forward.
1. Spreading the narrative that Black people are angry, aggressive, and dangerous
If we're angry, we have a right to be. If we are aggressive in pursuit of accountability, it's because we've been taught we need to be or our valid concerns will be ignored. If we're perceived as dangerous, it's due to a narrative created and maintained by white supremacy and anti-Black racism.
It's enough to deal with all of the nuanced ways we're expected to conduct ourselves in the face of systemic racism. We don't need the added weight of people piling onto harmful and inaccurate narratives about who we are, how we conduct ourselves, and whether you should fear us based solely on the color of our skin.
More than that, it's this narrative that makes *certain* white people feel safe and justified in murdering us for doing day-to-day activities while Black.
We shouldn't have to live in fear. Black lives deserve better.
2. Suggesting our success is / was due to some affirmative action practice
When Black people are seen as excellent at something, there's a mountain of work that came before it.
Due to systemic racism, we not only do many of us have to work harder to survive our neighborhoods, but due to the socioeconomic disparities caused by systemic racism, we also have to work harder for the same opportunities white people are awarded on account of generational wealth and its associated connections.
That means when we get into that Ivy league school on a scholarship, get that internship at the noteworthy tech giant, or get the highly sought after job that pays 6-figures, we've often earned it 10x over.
We did not "take it" from a "more deserving" white applicant, and suggesting anything else is perpetuating anti-Black racism.
3. Qualifying positive statements you make about us with the words "for a Black girl", or "for a Black guy"
We are not smart "for a Black guy", good with money "for a Black guy", pretty "for a Black girl", or any other backhanded compliment you qualify this way.
What's more, qualifying your statements in this way shows your racial bias, lack of inclusive thinking, and makes you sound racist AF.
4. Acting like you understand our struggle and are fighting as hard as we are to dismantle anti-Black racism
Even if you're out going to every civil rights march, speaking up against every instance of anti-Black racism you learn about, and donating or volunteering your money and time respectively to further support the Black community, you will still never understand what it's like to live in Black skin.
More than that, you'll never truly understand the level of repeated and sustainable trauma Black people experience when we hear about another Black person being murdered by racist police officers, or racist people in historically racist areas.
You'll never truly understand what it's like to wonder if you'll make it home from a traffic stop alive, or if calling the police for help will result in your murder.
Don't get it twisted. We sincerely and deeply appreciate all the work and true allyship. It's just not the same as the work we put in and have been putting in every day we wake up Black and go about our lives.
5. Co-opting our culture, way of speaking, or way of expressing ourselves while actively engaging in anti-Black racism
We see you. You aren't fooling anyone, and you certainly aren't out here looking good to anyone who matters.
In fact, when you put on aspects of our culture for likes, views, and / or to "sound cool", you make yourself look tone-deaf, uneducated, and trashy.
That said, we're under no delusions that you'll stop. We understand that to you Black people are nothing more than sources of entertainment and trendiness for you to use as you see fit.
For everyone else in your race who loathes your faux "woke" self-expression for the reasons I've just mentioned though, collect your damn people.
We're talking the wannabe "homies", the Uncle Daddy's, the racist Grandma's, the Karen's, the performative anti-racists, the full on white supremacists, and anyone else who isn't our problem.
While we're on the topic, this brings us to:
6. Feeling entitled to the emotional labor of Black people when it comes to the latest instance of anti-Black racism playing out in the media
We don't owe you that labor.
In fact, we don't owe you a damn thing!
And, since we're being honest, it's this white entitlement that is the root of the damn problem in the first place.
White folks in history felt entitled to own slaves and colonize countries that didn't belong to them. They felt entitled to engage in race wars, commit genocides, homicides, rapes, and other atrocities; enact racist laws, criminalize melanated skin, and commit a number of other crimes against humanity in pursuit of whatever they wanted - at any cost.
Fast forward several hundred years and we've still got this same entitlement problem.
Some white folks are out here feeling entitled to the jobs they're unqualified to hold, the education they didn't study enough to earn, the wealth built on the backs of POC bodies, and now the emotional labor of tearing down the racist system your ancestors all built and worked so hard to maintain.
It's really enough.
If you want to do something, figure out a way to dismantle and rebuild this system. Go educate yourself about anti-Black racism and it's widespread impact across North America. Then go educate others who look like you, were raised in similar households, and were not taught any of this in your white-led school curriculum.
Do something. Stop expecting something.