A note from our managing editor:
As a black woman currently living out the times that we’ve worked so hard to come from, the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the events that followed, have made my stomach turn. Though our site’s focus is R&B music and all that surrounds it, it’s important that we – the ones who have influence in our industry – take a stand for what we believe, what we see, and what we wish could be better.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that it’s easy being a black woman in 2016, but I will tell you that my blackness is deeper than just the color of my skin, the lyrics I sing, and the slang that I speak. My blackness is a representation of a fight that the generations before me fought, and that they hoped we would never have to fight again. My blackness is a representation of a love that is like none other, and an embodiment of strength, dignity, and overall confidence that can be found in nothing other than a black woman.
My pain from the recent deaths of these two black men taken away from this earth is more than just a cry for a situation that could’ve been handled better. My pain derives from the fact that the black man came from a black woman. The fact that there’s no amount of education, popularity, or articulation in a black man’s words that makes him safe from what’s happening right now, is where my pain comes from. That’s a scary realization to be had, decades after we were told the fight was over.
Although I’m sure there will be many who will continue to push the fact that #AllLivesMatter over the term #BlackLivesMatter, there’s importance and power in the latter that many won’t understand. By saying #BlackLivesMatter, we are saying that our lives – black lives – are in jeopardy right now and to many people, we’ve become seemingly invisible. That our skin causes us not to have an opinion, to be seen, and more importantly to be heard. Us saying #BlackLivesMatter is forcing people to make us be visible again; not to make any other race, community or body of people invisible.
For us to be one, as it is so deservingly stated, everyone has to notice that we – blacks – deserve a spot in this unified world that is being pushed for. Unfortunately though, we haven’t fully been extended that opportunity yet.
This piece, titled Visibly Black, is not to heighten the negativity that surrounds us, but to open up a conversation on what it takes to become visible again. The time to become #VisiblyBlack is now. What will you do to step out of the shadows and unite for what’s right?
Below is a poem that I recently wrote in response to these feelings.
Invisibly Black is what we are
Invisibly Black because they act like they never saw
Years after they say we beat oppression,
Our people are still here fighting off devastation of permanent black recession.
Invisibly Black is what I say
Invisibly Black because we’re forced to fight for life each and every day
Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Alton Sterling, Trayvon and Tamir
Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Corey Jones; Do you see why we’re living in fear?
Invisibly Black is what they see
Invisibly Black because you refuse to notice me
Instead of forcing us to say that “All Lives Matter”
Be reminded that it’s my black life causing all of your chatter
Invisibly Black is what I am
Invisibly Black because to them we’re not worth a damn
They love to propagate and replicate all that is our culture,
But when times get rough, won’t send even a tweet out to recognize our struggle
Invisibly Black is what we go through every day
Invisibly Black is what I no longer wish to say
Though years have changed and our futures have gotten bright,
The depths of our plight can never be compared to your right
Becoming Visibly Black is what we have to take a stand to be
Becoming Visibly Black will no longer be our plea
Regardless if you choose to acknowledge our pain
The time will come to an end where you won’t acknowledge our reign
Being Visibly Black is our true right
Being Visibly Black because we will chose to walk and stand in the light
No matter what it is that they say or do,
Being Visibly Black is the only thing set in our view
–Words by Ni’Kesia Pannell