Let's talk about the erosion of the soul that quietly comes along with constantly confronting racism

 Naomi Langley marching in Bismarck, ND, in 2016

Naomi Langley marching in Bismarck, ND, in 2016

By Naomi Langley

Today I had this sort of epiphany...

I'm tired. Really, really tired.

I'm tired, and I'm drained from this ongoing conversation on racism. Honestly. I know the work needs to be done. I know there are white people who react super positively to my words, thoughts and feelings. Some of y'all really get it, and it gives me hope — hope for my baby cousins, nephews and nieces that are coming up in this world.

But there are others that get so mad — and get me so mad — and it becomes a dark cycle of anger and aggression. These people seek to end the conversation, continuing to silence us. These people tell us, "Your life experience is wrong, because I say so." It hurts in a deep, unsettling way to know that people would erase entire cultures and histories like that.

I want to continue this conversation, but I need some things to shift. I need it to be the positive experience that I see it to be — an opportunity for mass healing.

But why? Why exactly is this conversation so important? Why can we not "just let it go"? And why is it so pertinent that we carefully craft our messages so as not to hurt each other anymore?

Well, there's enough hurt. And the ones in pain are tired of suffering. Yes, we all have our struggles. But it is now scientifically proven that systemic racism exists.

Does fixing this issue end at acknowledging that fact? No. Does fixing this issue end at some white people being nice to people of color? Not at all.

We as people of color still lack equitable access to the resources we need. We still lack, as a society, the understanding it will take to come into true UNITY. Unless you're in favor of continued racism and inequity, you don't need to be turned off by this conversation. You don't have to do anything, but I would hope that you can take a deep breath, set aside your defensiveness, and not discourage or bemoan those who choose to participate. I would hope that you at least stay open until such time that you feel ignited to join us in this mass, generational healing.

It is time we moved past our traumas. We know where we have been failed. We know where our communities are lacking. So, how do we become so engaged that we can begin to heal, relearn and preserve our cultural ways, and listen to those who need our help?

To me, this is not a negative thing. This is a very positive process that fills me with hope and energy to go out into this world as opposed to lying in bed, feeling depressed.

Fighting poverty and racism so that the youth can see a better tomorrow is truly all I have right now. I appreciate those who choose to stand together.

 

Naomi Langley is a human rights and environmental justice activist in Nashville, Tenn.