You Knew

If you know me, you know that I am your realist friend; the honest one who will have those difficult conversations with you. I have matured and grown from some very painful truths and feel better having faced them. Today, I want to address many of you on your willingness to learn what you can about systemic racism and how you may support African-Americans moving forward. Like so many others, I shall do my best to help you on this journey by having conversations, directing you to reading materials, organizations and businesses that can assist answering questions and providing collaborative suggestions. There is just one thing I must make clear:


The first time you laid eyes on the internal contents of a slave ship

slave ship




The first time you read about plantation life



When you learned about the Civil War

confederate flag



The first time you saw lynching pictures in your history books




When you were introduced to Ruby Bridges, The Freedom Riders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Angela Davis, Fred Hampton, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis, President Barack Obama



The first time you recognized segregation, whether it be at school lunch tables, University campuses, residential neighborhoods, workplaces, public spaces or places of worship



Your parents knew, their parents knew and your great-grandparents knew too. The only detail that has changed is now acts of racism can take center stage on your phone in a matter of moments. You are instantly reminded of it in real time by your President on Twitter; you can join FB pages dedicated to white supremacy.

You will not have to wait to read about Mr. George Floyd because you watched him die. This time, it was a knee instead of a rope.

African Americans know you knew. Maybe the sensory overload of witnessing a man call for his mother while the life disappears from his eyes was your tipping point. Maybe it wasn’t, but we see you. We know you. We see many of you struggling with the terror of watching what you knew all along, manifest itself in broad daylight for the world to see. This wasn’t supposed to be possible in 2020, but yet you say nothing to the neighbor who flies the confederate flag, the uncle who tells the racist joke at dinner, the co-worker who promotes negative stereotypes, your school board that doesn’t place priority on hiring minority teachers. All of these examples contributed to a bird-watcher being harassed, a jogger gunned down in cold blood, the weight pressed upon the neck of George Floyd and too many more to mention.

Listen, don’t get me wrong; better late than never. I’m going to help you as best I can to become a better ally, but just know that I know YOU KNEW.

6 thoughts on “You Knew

  1. This is so powerful Jess and we will still have those outliers who will still believe that “they” must have done something or it wouldn’t have happened. That is the true tagedy.

  2. This! I think a part of creating real change is not only for people to want to change this time, but for them to admit that they knew. That this is not new and they knew it was happening, but they could turn a blind eye. Admitting that is the first step.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s