Four hundred years. Four hundred years of opportunities to make it right. Four centuries of begging, pleading, praying, yelling, marching, uprisings. But you just let the wound of our anger, our outrage, our moans of grief, fester and ooze and become a puss-filled infected sore. You let it grow.
You tried to force a scab over it with the scraps of empty promises you threw to us, hoping it would pacify our bruised spirits, but another black life taken at your hands ripped the scab off the wound. You let the wound bleed and would tell us “it isn’t that bad” and dismissed our cries.
For centuries, the wound would scab over and be ripped off, scab over and be ripped off. Now the scab has been ripped off for the last time, but the wound won’t close anymore. Now the wound, the one that you let grow, must be painfully dug out. The infection must be scraped away. It must be left undressed so the air can circulate through it and allow it to heal properly so new skin can grow. This wound is deep, so there will be a permanent scar, but that is your fault because you let it grow.
I don’t know why it took George Floyd’s death for you to see that police have been terrorizing us for far too long. George isn’t the first to be murdered by the police. I find your marching with us now disingenuous. I find your shock at him being lynched in the street obtuse. I find the white guilt you hit me with every time I go into a store nauseating. There are thousands of George Floyds. Thousands of Ahmaud Arberys. Thousands. Of us. Innocent. Yet murdered by your hand. You let it happen. You told us to comply. And we complied and still died. YOU let it grow.
For centuries you kidnapped, raped, lynched, sodomized, terrorized, and bombed us. You sprayed us with fire hoses and beat us with bats lined with barbed wire. You have been systematically and deliberately trying to make us extinct. You. You wouldn’t let us eat in your restaurants, sleep in your hotels. You put up signs about your sundown towns. Your constant terrorism against our black bodies forced us to print green books that were our North Star, telling us where and who to avoid so we didn’t lose our lives trying to exist. You. You let that inhumane treatment grow.
You drained pools because we dipped our toes in them. You had laws that made us sit in the backs of buses. You took the bootstraps we fashioned out of sheer will and ingenuity and cut them, then destroyed the boots because you were threatened by our ability to build our own successful communities which, by the way, were better than yours. You stood outside of schools and colleges and acted like crazed lunatics simply because we wanted to educate ourselves. You let the lies white women told grow into angry lynch mobs that burned down entire black cities and murdered hundreds of hard-working, innocent black men, women, and children. You did that. You let it grow.
You let the root of racism grow so deep that your people feel entitled to question our geography, our finances, our homes, our cars, where we shop, where we do business, where we barbecue, where we jog, how we dress, and how we wear our hair. You stop us with authority you don’t have and ask us for our freeman papers. Then you call the cops and the cops tell us to show ID, but never ask you who you are. If we choose not to acquiesce to your unlawful request, you assume our intentions are nefarious, and things can turn deadly. You did that. You let that grow.
And so now here we are. Uprisings all across the country. Buildings burning because that is the only language you listen to. People filling the streets attempting to march peacefully to end police brutality. And what do you do? Spray us with rubber bullets, beat us, knock us down, and arrest us. And you don’t see how ridiculous that is? You don’t have the mental capacity to understand this is how we got here?! You don’t see how you are throwing gas on a fiery situation? You can’t possibly be that oblivious.
This country is hanging in the balance and we are giving the injustice system one final time to do the right thing. If the cowards who murdered George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery are given nothing more than a slap on the wrist, just remember one thing:
You let it grow.
Originally published at http://audrarussellwrites.com.