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25 Enlightening Quotes on Race Is America
These are tough times we're living in. The killings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, and the subsequent assassination of five police officers in Texas, have renewed a national debate on race relations and police brutality, as well as the prevalence of guns in society, only a month after the tragic massacre in Orlando. From all this violence erupts further bigotry and misunderstanding as these tensions threaten to tear us apart.
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With "Black Lives Matter" as a rallying call and a movement undeterred, people across the nation are demanding justice and reform to a criminal system that so unfairly targets African-Americans. Yet, others argue that, no, "All Lives Matter" and "Blue Lives Matter," as they blame BLM for the violence perpetrated by one man acting alone and out of any number of emotions created and exacerbated by a climate of unchecked hate and inequity.
The fact that people need to retaliate to a nonviolent movement that seeks only equality and accountability means that opponents to BLM don't know what they're retaliating against. All lives matter, sure. But when you fear that your life can be taken away at any moment based solely on the color of your skin, how do you know that your black life matters? When crooked cops get away with murdering innocent men and children for what inevitably amounts to simply being alive, how can anyone look a mother of that lost soul in her eyes and say that her child's life mattered as much as any white man's.
Black Lives Matter isn't the problem. Ignorance is. It always has been. But maybe that's because memory is fickle.
Slavery only ended 150 years or so ago. The Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination based on race among other factors, only passed 50 years or so ago. Barack Obama became the first black president only seven years ago. With his election, suddenly the words "post-racial America" entered the public consciousness. But America can never be post-race, not when it refuses to acknowledge that race is something it invented. That race is something it has used to oppress a certain group of people upon whose backs it built the empire that stretched from sea to shining sea and overseas. That race is America.
Queer people of color have known this, not only as minorities, but as minorities within a minority. They have deep, personal, firsthand knowledge of the cruelty with which Americans have treated fellow Americans, and that this racial bias is nothing new, but the oldest trick in the book. Many have spoken to that cruelty, often with brilliance and an eloquence that rings true years after they've gone.
Click through the gallery for enlightening quotes on the black experience from queer luminaries such as James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Alice Walker, Bayard Rustin, and more.