I anxiously check my phone every morning on updates in regard to Rittenhouse’s trial. And with each passing day, overheard conversations stating opposing views, and newfound media intel, I am reminded there are two different Americas. There is one that boasts, “freedom for all,” ensures justice, equal opportunity, wealth, and peace. And then there is the other, one that is dark, favors only certain kinds of people, and actively chooses violence, sex, power, and greed. I exist in both.
I exist in safe spaces, where I can be embraced and find fair opportunities. And in those same spaces, a confederate flag hangs only moments down the street, where young, white children dared one and other to call me the “n” word. I exist in inner circles that claim to embrace me for all that I am. And yet those same circles reject the reality of my Blackness and say it is something I am not entitled to. I exist in an America that tells me I have a fair chance, and in that same breath, shoots me in the back. I exist in both Americas, and I am not the only one.
We all do. Yes, people of color and all marginalized individuals experience America differently than those whom it was created for. However, that does not mean that our histories and realities are not intertwined. Just because my white friends do not experience America in the way that I do, does not mean that they are exempt from this experience entirely. In fact, I fear this statement places the work on people of color yet again.
If we state there are two Americas, it gives people the opportunity to disconnect from one experience. Actually, it allows them to remove themselves entirely from the situations at hand. This is not helpful.
At the end of the day, we have all watched as the media portrayed Black people as monsters, and the white people that slayed us, as heroes. Many have watched their office spaces fill up with those who look like them and not once questioned why that was the case. This is everyone’s reality, it’s just some of has have the luxury of ignoring it.
Instead of acknowledging what we have all witnessed all along, people cling to their ignorance. And this trial, like so many others that have come before and will come again, is a moment in time where people can either choose to cling to their ignorance or choose to unlearn and rewrite the narrative. Regardless of what happens, though, it does not change the fact that we all live in the same America. And even if we are not the ones subjected to discrimination, we still maintain it.