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By Raven Jones

I am the only race that endured 400 years of slavery, slavery with rape, murder, and suicide. I am the only race that marched against water pressure, biting, vicious dogs, and were killed and injured by the people who were supposed to protect the city on that dreadful Bloody Sunday.  I am the only race that walks around with last names that do not belong to my ancestors and so will my children and my children’s children.

So who are we, other than who we are told?  Seen as the race with most of their black male fathers not in the household, is this who we are?  Are we the race with the highest percentage incarcerated in America or the race known for selling contraband and drugs?  Who we truly are is rarely displayed.  The media never acknowledges the fact that famous actresses such as Oprah Winfrey and Viola Davis reached out to the victim’s families of the Charleston Massacre. This is who we are.  The African American men in my neighborhood who father kids who are not even their own.   This is who we are.   The preachers in my community, being the first to give donations and food whenever a family is struggling, is who we are.

Regardless of how good these actions are, we are still killed for wearing a black hoodies and minding our own business. Despite protests, we are still attacked by the people who so call protect us every day in every city.  Black people are still put in black suits and dresses, then put in black coffins, next in black limos, then put in their black holes that were dug just like they were in the 1800’s.  History surely repeats itself.

Look at me with my equality.   My ancestors were shot and beaten and whipped for it. They didn’t risk their lives every day for a nobody.  They did it for them, my father and his mother and for her uncle and aunt. People were killed over the yearning for ending black and white water fountains, separations due to marriage with opposite races.  They fell in love, but were mutilated for looking at the forbidden ones or making the foolish mistakes that young, fourteen year old boys often make today.  How can we so easily forget?

Black is only what we make it out to be.  Once at the doctor’s office, I had to check Negro for the first time in my life, taking me back to the times of my elders.  Once my father’s grandfather was called Boy John his whole life from his Caucasian side of the family when his real name was Clarence.  Once a girl was given my name and was smacked and bruised because she told her master that her name was Robin and not Raven.  Once a girl, my age was shipped away from her home to live under a stranger’s orders, but today this girl will strive as a proud black strong woman and nothing less.

The shackles are off, black is only how it is seen in an individual’s eye. It is pain, boldness, beauty, perfection, ambition, and infinity. It’s me in the eyes of myself and no one else.