Alright, let me state, for the record, that I had to change my password and wait at least 20 minutes before logging in today to get this all written down. Irritated to the max! Anyway, I know this is a blog about mental health and illness and just generally cruddy things but I want to make a statement. I’m climbing up onto my soapbox to let y’all know what’s up. If you aren’t interested, please, do continue passing by me on the street. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to return to the blog-o-sphere.
I’m mixed race. My father is black and Native American, while my mother is a blend of European cultures (and my grandmother was from Canada, if you want to count that separately). My biggest peeve while growing up was that I was always considered black. There’s nothing wrong with being black, I just didn’t feel like it was a true statement. How can I deny a whole half of my heritage because on the outside, I appear to be black? It used to enrage my parents as well, with my mom even fighting the affirmative action check boxes on my report cards and enrollment forms. She usually won the argument too, and would have me and Thomas identified as “other.” A lot of times though, there wasn’t an “other” category and we were blocked off into being “African American.” Why am I bringing this up? Because the Black Lives Matter movement has finally moved into the forefront of my consciousness. Before, it was hard to concern myself with things that were far off and distant, but the other day I was faced cyber-head-on with the reality of it all.
A girl I attended high school with, infamous for being a devout, tightly wound Catholic with extremely conservative views, posted a status about the stand-off between Black Lives Matter protesters and the usual highway traffic on the interstate. She wanted to know why people would do this, knowing that others had to be at work. I commented, something I usually dare not do because of my temper, and the stupidity of people on the Internet (not y’all, you guys rock!), saying that their protest got the point across. Apparently, some older gentleman didn’t agree and replied with a snarky, sarcastic comment that got my blood boiling. I managed not to reply, except to say that the sarcastic tone wasn’t necessary since we were all adults. It backfired, as per usual, so I blocked the girl and any notifications I may have gotten from the post.
The old dude was upset because 8 policemen had died at the hand of a crazed sniper, specifically targeting white police officers. I understand that their deaths are tragic and I empathize with their families. One of them had a 4-month old baby. It was horrible. But, and this is a tentative and large but, Black Lives Matter. Just because an outlier in the movement went rogue and started sniping people does not mean that the movement is a terrorist organization as some have claimed. It does not mean that everyone involved in the movement is intent on violence and massacres until the job is done. That’s not the issue. The issue is that black people are institutionally and systematically oppressed, and have been for generations.
For me, it starts with not being identified truthfully. Because I look one way, people box me into a corner and make assumptions about me. However, I don’t have kinky curls, I don’t listen to rap music, I don’t know all the black celebrities, except those that have been in the news as of late. I don’t watch BET, I don’t care about cars, so on and so forth. Stereotypes are usually based somewhat in truth but they aren’t meant to be held as a standard for everyone and all people that fit into a certain category. Cutting off my feet to make sure I fit in with the rest of them isn’t how it should be done. I’m not African, my family hasn’t been African for generations. We’re American. I am an American, and nothing else. That’s how we should be identified, not based on the color of our skin. Because when people get it wrong, it’s offensive.
Now, let me explain the point of my blogging this, besides getting it off my chest. Mental illness. (Ha, you didn’t think I could come full circle, did you, but surprise!) Gunmen that go out and shoot a bunch of people are not necessarily mentally ill. Mentally ill people are not all violent and dangerous. All through my therapy career (as a patient, not a therapist) and my psychology studies, people have been saying how much the field as changed as people become more tolerant of those with mental illness. With the recent turmoil that has become our current state, mental illness has taken hundreds of steps in the wrong direction. People with a history of mental illness cannot own a gun, people with a history of mental illness cannot protest peacefully. Everyone is the scapegoat for other people’s problems. Being “black” and mentally ill puts me at the lowest space on the totem pole. I’m left to wonder when I’ll be exterminated, when I’ll lose everything. Because I’m considered black, my votes are barricaded, my input is devalued. Add in the mentally ill mixture and I’m equivalent to nothing. And my mental illness has never exhibited violence! I’m not a crazed ax-murderer or anything, but that doesn’t matter.
Assumptions. That’s the problem. Assumptions and excuses are what makes our country spin on its axis at the center of the universe, pulling the rest of the world down the drain with us. But we can’t let this continue. No matter who you are, no matter what color or creed, state of health, it cannot continue. It’s true, all lives do matter, but that standard cannot be maintained until everyone is equal. And that won’t happen until people understand that black lives matter. The mentally ill matter.
Who loved Andy more, Woody or Buzz? Who’s parents were better, Nemo’s or Dory’s? Which sister had a harder time, Anna or Elsa? If you can argue one over the other, you are part of the All Lives Matter movement and don’t understand. But if it takes breaking it down to Pixar level, I am willing to do it. Because everyone matters, and choosing one over the other is not the answer.
Alright, I’m jumping off my soapbox. I’m finished discussing this issue. It made my blood boil last week to the point that I could get nothing done. I couldn’t focus on anything else and didn’t feel better until Brendan was sitting with me in the car and listening to my endless rant about the whole thing. The library isn’t currently holding the level of happiness I usually receive. I’m going home, I think.