Created by Aiyanna Gutema
Audio: Aiyanna’s Reflection
I recorded this reflection after a conversation with my sisters, two black women whom I deeply respect. We discussed what it was like to grow up in a homogenous, white city where we were often the only black family. Our neighbors always made sure to tell us how racist they weren’t. But we talked about being black students and having only white teachers. We talked about how our hair was up for discussion and how we weren’t allowed to be Ethiopian on Ellis Island Day. We talked about whether we think the opportunities we were granted made up for the lack of community, racially or culturally.
And when we talked about our participation in the Black Lives Matter protests, we discussed the threat to our professional careers. We had all learned how to navigate white spaces at a young age. We had survived at elite colleges to find elite jobs. But if we are caught showing our blackness, we risk losing our places. Still, we know that this is work more sacred than tenuous relationships built around ignoring the ignorance and silence of our white friends and colleagues: Black Lives Matter and so does Black Life.