I’ve given a lot of thought to what I have to say about #BlackLivesMatter. There is so much material swirling in my head, just from this lifetime of being a Black Hispanic woman. For the past week, I have woken up in a panic attack. So much of what’s on the news has been bringing back flashbacks of the trauma I’ve experienced because of my race; trauma that has led to me being a disabled veteran with PTSD.
I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do….I’m not going to explain why Black Lives Matter…not anymore. My status as a life that matters is not up for debate, and so I will not engage in those debates, for the sake of my mental health and my dignity. If you are one that would want to debate me on this, this post is not for you and I am paying you no mind.
I’m speaking now to my allies of other races and my fellow African-Americans.
I’m speaking because I am a veteran, and I have Black friends that still active duty and are not free to testify how they have been completely screwed over by the military that was supposed to protect them.
And they certainly are limited on what they can say in public without jeopardizing their well-being.....
.....I however, separated from the Air Force in 2019, so I can say whatever the fuck I want.
I’m speaking because I have this newly acquired platform, and for some reason, people look up to my dumb ass and care a lot about what I have to say...
...and though recalling some of the events I’m about to tell you is currently making my heart race, triggering flashbacks, making my palms sweaty (mom's spaghetti...I'm sorry, I had to do it, comedy is my coping mechanism and I'm wild) my followers need to know where I stand.
I will be the first to admit: I am fragile at this point in my life. I have panic attacks getting on the bus, and being in large crowds. I have to be mindful of my mental health during this time, because I have no strength left to continuously combat ignorance in my social media feeds.
And so, I’m laying it all out here…
I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT AND SHOWN, ALL MY LIFE, THAT AT SOME LEVEL, MY LIFE DOESN’T MATTER, OR MATTERS LESS THAN OTHERS….
A black woman grows up being taught that she has to be "fixed". My hair needed to be straightened if we were going “somewhere nice.” I grew up hating the side of me that was black. As a child, I saw it as my inferior side. I saw myself as ugly, because I was an impure mixture from my lighter-skinned Hispanic/Native-American mother and my Black father. I remember spending hours crying in the mirror, trying to brush the curls out of my hair, because maybe then, I would be acceptable and beautiful and worthy of love.
The recent events that have emboldened the #BLM movement have been huge triggers for me…
…because I know what it’s like to be at the mercy of an evil person who happens to be white and is FULLY aware of the power they hold over me… I experienced an entire year and a half of it in the Air Force.
I had an abusive white female commander who, among other things I’m not ready to talk about, threatened to have me thrown in jail, just because she could......
....actual words by the way: "because I can..."
She would tell military police that I lunged across the desk at her, and they would cart me off in handcuffs.
After all, who would they believe? Her or “someone like you?” (actual words, coupled with elevator eyes and hand-gesturing to me as if I was some unwanted piece of trash).
I lived under that threat and similar threats for months. She targeted every person of color in my unit, but I was the second highest-ranking officer in the unit besides her.
I suppose I was seen as the biggest threat.
I did everything I could to make myself smaller, less noticeable, more miserable, because I knew my joyful attitude was an annoyance to her. She definitely made a point to let me know that. I stopped wearing makeup, I stopped eating. I woke every morning screaming from fear, disappointed that I wasn’t dead….oh yes, I would pray every night that I would not wake up.
She had me followed, both on base and off. As she put it, "this is a small base, and a small town...and I have eyes everywhere..." I was called into her office regularly just to be berated and threatened. I would fall to the floor in tears, in uniform, begging her to stop, and she would laugh at me. She even threatened to have the entire squadron surround me in a circle and one by one, tell me why I was such a terrible person. This woman knew, both because of her position and because of her race, that she could subdue me AND get away with it.
I was warned not to tell anyone what happened to me behind those closed doors.
No one was allowed to talk to me. Some of us had to speak in secret to check on each other.
I felt like a slave.
Due to one stunt she pulled on me, that I am NOT ready to tell in detail, I got a terrible pain in my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack.
Upon getting an EKG immediately, I was told that it was a severe panic attack. The amount of work and pleading I had to do to finally get protection took an entire year. My therapist from the medical facility had to get involved and issue a statement to higher ranked leaders of the base:
“If she is not removed from this person, the stress will literally kill her.”
When that woman, or monster rather, finally moved to her next base, the damage was done. I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. For the past 5 years I have been fighting this disability; I have difficulties feeling genuine joy. Most days, I am constantly on the brink of tears, despite being currently known for making comedy.
I turned off my identity for a year and a half, wishing I weren’t black, hoping that at least if I became as small and lowly as possible, she would leave me alone. But it didn’t work. And now I’m on, what could be a life-long path to finding myself again.
This is an extreme example of just what the most evil kind of person is capable of, when they are conscious of the racial, systemic power they hold over others. I stared into the face of that evil every day. That face still haunts my nightmares, especially these days. I am reminded every day of how it was shoved into my face, that because of who and what I am, my life didn’t matter.
Every Black person you know has had too many moments where they felt helpless because of their race, whether they’ve been followed by security in a store, called n*gger, experienced police brutality, or was made to feel like they don’t belong in certain spaces.
Unfortunately I went through a severe freak incident in which I felt almost all of these experiences at once…for a year and a half
In the Black community, we have glorified ourselves as being a strong people.
I’m reluctant to glorify that aspect of our culture anymore.
We are strong because we HAD to be.
We are strong because we continue to experience trauma, while trying to lead normal lives.
We’ve been expected to be strong and to handle more than others, to tolerate pain more than others, to be beasts of burden…like our ancestors who were enslaved.
We’ve even been conditioned to attack any other members of our culture that show signs of “weakness”. My own father called me “weak” when I told him I was diagnosed with PTSD.
We as black people are still fragile humans with emotions, and tears, just as capable of feeling pain as anyone elses.
Unfortunately, part of being black in America means pushing A LOT of feelings down, constantly.
I refuse to invalidate my own tears anymore, and ALL OF YOU need to see our hurt.
We are not responsible for the sins of our ancestors, but we are responsible for breaking the curses that still linger over us from their actions. On my shoulders as a Black Hispanic woman, I have certain cultural curses to break, habits that we’ve no doubt developed for the purposes of survival, but are toxic and must be done away with.
However, the sins of slavery and inequality in this country are NOT mine to bear.
My shoulders are worn and tired, and simply cannot bear the weight.
I don’t want any of my white allies or allies of other races to ever feel what I have felt.
You never can, never will, and I thank God for that.
But every time we’re told to “get over it” when we experience the effects of inequality, the sins of your ancestors are put on us.
It’s like throwing yet another sandbag on top of the load we already have to carry.
I’m simply asking you to take back what, unfortunately, belongs to you.
Personally, I’m putting that sandbag down on the ground.
I cannot make you pick it up, just know that I’m not carrying it anymore. I get it, it’s not fair. You didn’t start this bullshit, this fucked up system is not your fault….
....but unfortunately that’s how generational curses work.
Picking up the sandbag doesn’t always look like protesting or posting on social media. It can look like changing the way you talk or think about POC. It can look like being aware of your biases and actively fighting them. It can look like casting off some of the fucked up racist things your family may have taught you.
I do ask that you do your own research, watch movies, seek education on the unique challenges people of color face. Study implicit bias.
We don’t have the energy to heal ourselves AND be your teachers.
I understand you want to learn, but guys……yo....we’re fucking tired.
Also consider that the powers-that-be actively ignore our voices…but will listen to yours.
The concept of white and black was created by the rich and powerful, long ago, to divide and rank the individuals “below” them, giving some members of the commonwealth the feeling that they are indeed superior. The purpose was to gain and maintain control over the masses by creating division.
Hundreds of years of conditioning has led to where we are now. Unfortunately, that means that white voices and white frustration is valued more…. THAT alone is a weapon.
It may be the biggest weapon we need right now: your passion and frustration on our behalf.
I cannot force you to do anything.
Unless you are a leader who has been put in a position in which you are responsible for the welfare of people below you (like, I don’t know, a FUCKING PRESIDENT)….no one really has to do anything ever.
So if you do choose to pick up that sandbag, I thank you.
Because you could just let it sit there and nothing about your life would change.
Carrying that sandbag is gonna fucking suck.
It will make you very tired and very uncomfortable….
but you have to understand that we’ve been carrying more than our fair share for too long... .......I personally will not do it anymore.
I’ve set that sand bag down…in front of you and me…and I am walking away from it, forever.
Will you pick it up?
Content Creator, Actress, Recording Artist
Political Scientist (I passed with C's, but hey I passed, so fuck it)
Former Air Force 1st Lieutenant/Captain-select
Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Class of 2014