Opinion: Who Am I?


Illustration by McKenna Greenleaf Faulk

Christion Gilyard

Editor’s Note: The following piece contains strong language including the use of a racial epithet. While typical journalistic style calls for partially censoring such language, we felt it was important to the integrity of the piece and the author’s intent to leave the language intact.

What am I? Obviously to you, I am not human. For if I was human, it would not take protests for you to see that you should not beat me.

So what am I? Obviously to you, I am not an American; for if I was an American, Breonna Taylor would be receiving justice. We know that I am Black, but is there not more than that? You are White, you are Privilege, you are the Standard, you are the American, but above that you are human. What am I missing in my skin, in my heart, in my soul that you refuse to see? For years this country has beaten those that looked like me, it has stripped me of my history and forced me to accept a dream that you force yourself to believe.

Until recently, you had succumbed to that dream, finally ridding yourself of the reality that minorities are unable not to see. You claim all lives are equal, you preach “Make America Great Again”; yet somehow you turn off the fact that there is no such thing as either for people that look like me.

However, you know that already. That is why you enjoy saying and believing it. You enjoy a world that you never had to experience, because you are rooted in a lifestyle that is comfortable for you. You enjoy the past, because the past was a fairy tale that you were allowed your happy endings. You tell me I should not grieve slavery, yet you force me to relive a bombing that tore through the twin towers, killing many of our fellow Americans. You tell me slavery was better than welfare, but disregard that it is you whom most often use welfare.

The real joke of all of this is that you would hate to experience my reality at the cost of your dream.

Black people have been screaming our lives matter since the moment we were forced to build the very country you love. Black people were crying our lives matter as we watched our sons and daughters be crucified by your hands. Black people have begged for you to see that our lives matter since your men snatched us and forced our mothers to breed your children, while you feed ours to alligators. You say you worship a God, yet who am I, if not the child by the same God you believe to worship. You say he tells you to love, but it requires your rights to be lost before you stick up for mine? You say he cares, but where are your tears for Breonna Taylor, Eric Gardner, and the endless names of innocent Black humans that were killed while living a lie you forced us to see? You say he is fair, but what fairness have you shown me that I did not have to fight for you to give?

What am I? Am I the negro, the nigga, the motherfucker, and the other names you reduced me to accept? No, today those words make you comfortable only when you see that I am not in the room. Am I the fear that you harbor, as you realize you truly have no real power? You are scared. No need to lie. You fear my happiness, because it means you become just like me. A human being that has to fight for his position in a world mindlessly chasing their dreams.

If you did not fear me, you would stand with me to call out institutions raising tuition when many of us are jobless. If you did not fear me, you would stand by my side to denounce the laws built to surpass me. Or maybe, you do not believe I am human. For what human would want to endure slavery before being allowed welfare? If I described the blessings of the Holocaust; you would condemn me. If I laughed on 9/11, you would hold me accountable. Yet when it comes to slavery, you simply say “it was a choice.”

So White Americans, what I am? At least tell me what I am, before you strip me of who I am meant to be.