#GirlsWriteBack is a summer writing project hosted by the GirlSense & NonSense Blog.
It features weekly essays, poems, and fiction by young women writers responding to news headlines.
Half a century ago, You heard Martin Luther King Jr. proclaim his dream. He dreamed of a “nation [that would] rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” He had a dream of a nation where his “four little children [would] not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. A nation where the “storms of persecution” would dissipate and the “winds of police brutality” would blow away. You heard his dream loud and clear as his voice carried from the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, D.C. to the “snow-capped Rockies of Colorado” and to the “red hills of Georgia”.
Just five years later, You heard him no more. His life, extinguished by the deadly force of discrimination, an act of terror meant to silence his voice forever. But he wasn’t silenced. America, You heard his voice as You witnessed the barriers of segregation crumble and fall. You heard him in the exultant voices of black men, women, and children as they laid claim to the birthright guaranteed them by the Constitution. You heard his words, his voice sounding in the halls of statehouses, churches, schools, and homes, and for a season, progress was made, and it was good.
Let’s take it to the present. Fifty years have passed. Do You still hear his voice? You put a man on the moon. You saw the Iron Curtain fall. You went to war. You went to peace. You entered the brave new world of the 21st century. Yet, where is his voice? For all that has changed, much astonishingly has remained unchanged. As much as You, no We, deny it, racism and discrimination is very much alive in America in 2015.
On the evening of June 17th, 2015 the lives of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, and Myra Thompson were extinguished by the deadly force of discrimination in an act of terror. America, what was their crime? The color of their skin? How did You, no We, let this happen?
Is it because You, no We, turn a blind eye to rampant police brutality against people of color? Is it because You, no We, continue to defend symbols of “Southern heritage” such as the confederate flag which flies proudly in the state where its sons and daughters were so recently and senselessly murdered? Is it because You, no We, have bought into the myth of ‘reverse racism’ and black stereotypes?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that America, we’ve had ENOUGH of the destruction and cruelty of racism and discrimination! Black lives matter! Muslim lives matter! Disabled lives matter! Asian lives matter! LGBT lives matter! Native American lives matter! Latino/Latina lives matter! Women’s and Girls’ lives matter! ALL lives matter! Don’t You agree? So now, my question to You, no Us, is what are We going to do to about it?
Co-Editor-GirlSense & NonSense Magazine