I am African American. My wife is Mexican-American. We were blessed to raise three beautiful, highly intelligent, opinionated children. We have always treated everybody the way we want and expect to be treated.
We have been fortunate in so many ways to experience an incredible number of people of all colors that we consider not just friends but family. But we like so many other minorities have experienced racism in our lives. Some of it from pure ignorance while other times because people simply were not aware of how what they considered a harmless statement or gesture could pierce a person of color. We have taught our kids to always be respectful but stand your ground when needed.
What has been happening over the past week is sending shockwaves across our nation. Not just blacks but people of all colors standing in the trenches together demanding change to the social injustices that have polluted our country for decades.
Recently my middle kid Cristina decided to share some of the things she’s experienced in her life. I hope and pray as you read her story, especially those of you who have never had to walk the path of a minority in America, that you will have a better understanding of why things have to change NOW in America. Do not have pity for my daughter — that’s not what she’s looking for. She is a strong, independent, minority woman. A wife and mother with a college degree. Her goal is to educate. After all, education is the key to knowledge. I am so proud of her, as I am of my other two children:
Imagine spending hours combing your natural hair only to sit down to lunch with your friends and be told, 'your hair looks like you stuck your hand in an electrical socket.'
Imagine excitedly arriving to your first week of college and your white suite mate tells you, 'I’m so lucky I got paired with a black girl like you and not one of those ‘dirty’ black girls.'
Imagine excitedly preparing to travel to a foreign country, but you remember you should check if all the cities you are visiting are safe for black people.
Imagine all the joy and excitement of dating someone new, but you have to ask them the question, 'is your family OK with me being black?'
Imagine when the answer to that question is, 'no, they’re not.'
Imagine having your hair pet and pulled like an animal. All against your wishes.
Imagine when you choose to wear your naturally curly hair, and someone takes the time out of their day to comment, 'I see you’ve got your crazy hair today.'
Then imagine when they touch your hair they say, 'that’s so weird! Your hair feels like straw ... or like a Brillo pad!'
Imagine planning a fun cross country trip, but you go out of your way to avoid certain states and cities because you’re not sure how safe it is for black people there.
Imagine being followed around the store by an employee because you know they’re watching to see if you steal something.
Imagine being called dirty on a REGULAR basis because, like most black people, I don’t wash my hair every single day.
I’ve been on this earth 30 years, and these are a FRACTION of my stories. And sadly, my stories are minimal compared to most of the racism that many of my black brothers and sisters face every single day.
I’ve been told my whole life not to get upset. I've been told to not get angry when people make these stupid comments because they honestly don’t know.
But these last few days, I am in shock and awe of the stupidity and ignorance I’ve seen on my news feed. People that I’ve known for years, people I thought were friends, are making comments and sharing videos that take away from the narrative at hand.
We are tired. We are angry. And we want justice.
Black people have been here for centuries. We helped build this country. It’s as much ours as it is yours. And yet, we still don’t receive the same liberties our constitution was founded on.
So, before you post another video about merchandise being stolen, or about your favorite brunch spot getting destroyed, take the time to LISTEN to our stories! Ask yourself, 'how can I better support the real narrative at hand?'
To all my white friends: I encourage you to use your platform to support and lift up your black friends. STOP sharing videos of black looters and criminals. That goes against what we’re trying to say. It’s time to step up and be a white ally to the black community. Spread messages of all the GOOD black people are doing for this country, and how they’ve influenced your lives for the better.
And, for the love of all that is good, please stop using MLK quotes to try and pacify our cries for help. We want justice. We want to feel safe in our own country. We want the same freedoms as white Americans.
If you’ve ever been pulled over by a cop and your first reaction wasn’t to fear for your life, then you don’t understand the racism and injustice we face every single day of our lives.
Now is your chance to be on the right side of history.
George Floyd matters. Ahmaud Arbery matters. Every innocent black person that has died at the hands of corrupt police matters.
Black lives matter! ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿
-Cristina Aguirre Gunn