I am fearful that many people are too stuck in their ways — in this chauvinistic, American, love-it-or-leave-it mentality that they can’t get over. Just because you’re white doesn’t mean that America belongs to you. I hope that people who aren’t of color slowly begin to understand that and realize that it’s not all about you. It’s about an entire system that we need to sort out and dismantle because the way things are now, it seems like slavery never ended.
I just want to be able to leave my house and not have that burning gut feeling as I walk down the street: Is somebody going to look out their window and wonder what I’m doing? Or why I’m existing? I promise, I’m not a threat. I’m just trying to go to Walgreens.
What honestly are you afraid of? You’re afraid to lose your privileges? Are you afraid to lose your powers? Because really in the end, you don’t have anything special. You’re not better than me. In my mind, it all comes back to fear. I don’t want to be scared of white people when I walk out my door, and I’m hoping that white people stop being so scared of me.
Everybody who looks like me has probably experienced or gone through similar things, but I believe that Black joy is a way to break from the shackles of the system. After all the trauma, there’s something beautiful about our spirit that still allows us to barbecue; to experience joy and have fun and live life. It’s maybe one of the only things that we have to keep us from being suicidal or genuinely going insane, and I feel like that part of people of color is never going to change. In a way it’s sad, too, that for some people their only relief is music and art because once you walk out of that door, you’re right back in the system. Whereas white people always seem to walk in freedom.
I am happy to see a lot of people of color and a lot of people that aren’t of color coming together. I see photos of protests and the front lines — such a mix of different people and cultures all standing up for what’s right. It makes a world of difference to me that people can stand in solidarity together and fight, because we can’t do it alone. Black Lives Matter is the language we use, but it’s not only a Black thing. It’s an American thing.
Tim Miller, 38, is a food service worker in New Orleans.