Let’s forget the fact that these lives lost were people, with dreams and families. Imagining future stories to be created and recollecting tales from the past.
Let’s pretend that these people didn’t just step outside to see, and to feel the air of freedom on their onyx skin. Understanding the gift that freedom is, and the ability to share their wonder with others.
Let’s argue that all the things we know about their humanity were false and that the truth of who they were, lay in past mistakes. In choices made in the circumstance that their privileged prevented.
So – ask me again why this matters?
The hierarchy of race, we were taught to care about from the time our eyes could discern the spectrum of life that was around us. As if the brown skin was better, was (en)lightened because it glowed like maple syrup on snow in the winter, and looked like gilded sands on a Grecian beach in the summer.
A system that sells us the belief that milk baths will quench the thirst within, to belong. That the sun only shines for those who “need” color and not for those blessed with it. In this world where contrast is beautiful, and dark shadows are just the background in which alabaster figures command…
attention, freedom, focus, centre point, the right to be
Because if the only way I can talk to you is in words of colour and melanin, let me remind you that brown is made from mixing purple and yellow; blue and orange; red and green – There is no “white” in there.
You, my brother, my friend, are more closely aligned with the shadows than you are with the light. Those eyes choose to only see two tones, and though it makes them glow, those eyes will remain blinded by reflections cast by ivory statues;created by men who sought to capture all the world’s colours and only give us back two.
© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy
AN: This piece, “Why Brown Lives Should Care,” was written as a response to all my family, friends, and acquaintances that see #blacklivesmatter as a black issue and ignore the fact that it talks about systematic racism. Working in social Justice, I have held many sessions with youth and community members from the South Asian community, who will tell me that they don’t face racism because they are part of the “White” crowd, that they fit into these patriarchal and colonial structures (my more honest words) and will be seen as individuals, not by the colour of their skin. Challenging racism in racialized communities still remains one of the hardest parts of my job but I always believe, things will get better.