Birthdays

Mic check, mic check. One. Two. One. Okay, this is working.

On the day that I am writing and posting this. Let’s talk about birthdays.

Today is my birthday. I turn 21 today. 21 years alive, made it through the odds of the American society to avoid cops and trouble to see this age.

And I’m going to spend my day like any other day.

A lot of people I know I don’t tell them my birthday. There could be a number of reasons why. One being that I share the same birth week as my late grandfather, and if you have read Let Go on my joint blog with Alayna, you’d know why. Grandpa’s death is an important time in my family’s life. Marks the decline of my life from the tender age of 9-10. Too young to understand death and too young to be taught it.

It could be because I don’t fit well with social spaces. Ask anyone that’s seen me at a social gathering, and I go crazy with other people. I isolate myself in the deepest chambers in my mind and just sift through space. I talk about this one a lot on my joint blog, too. Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated with it. It’s so expansive and never-ending, much like how I perceive the duration of that negative feeling around others.

Here’s a link if you want to see it. There are actually three posts on the topic, so check out my page if you want to read more.

Maybe I don’t like talking or celebrating my birthday because I don’t know how to celebrate it. I never really have anything planned for my birthdays because I know how much I change up on stuff at the last minute. I’m the type of person who would freeze up and ditch my own party if I wasn’t feeling it. I hear people give me compliments and best wishes for my birthday, but I don’t believe them, well, most of them.

I feel like people are lying to me, honestly. I don’t think it’s true when they say that commonly coupled together phrase. I don’t register as something good. I feel like people are just saying that because they know me. Much like how you have to be nice and talk to people to get through the day, not because you genuinely like them. Maybe I’m projecting my own internal issues onto others and then demonizing them for my problems. Who knows.

But, if you had to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, it would be one simple thing…

For Black Lives to Matter.

That’s right. No monetary gain, no pleasure package, no persona booster. Just for Black Lives to be treated fairly.

If you didn’t know, I’m a young Black adult living in Northern California, grew up in the suburbs due to my family’s sacrifices when they were kids and due to economic opportunists that were given to us. I’m extremely lucky and thankful for my situation.

But there’s those who have it worse. Let me break it down for you.

I can’t tell you how long the voice of racism has been ringing in my ears. Maybe that’s why I don’t fully trust people all of the time. Because I know that they would use their privilege on me.

I can’t tell you how many times people would have had an interest in me more if I wasn’t Black. I spent so many days looking at my curly hair and comparing it to the straighter hair that others have. I’d look at my skin and be weary of being in the heat for too long because if I became darker, it would make it harder for me to make friends and seem “less threatening.” I don’t remember all of the looks I’ve gotten from people because I said that I didn’t wear anything but striped and solid colored shirts, so I can bring the least bit of attention to myself by any authorities. I can’t tell you how many times people made fun of my name based on my race, as it sounds “too white,” but simultaneously it being “too Black” if it were a Black name. I shouldn’t have to not listen to my own people’s music for more than 17 years just to seem “safe” to be around.

This year, I’ve been fixing all of the damage that I took from my past. Coming to terms that I’m not a social person in huge gatherings, but work and feel more comfortable one-on-one. I know that there is times where I just want to be alone and I am working on my communication with others. I now have a car, so I can regularly get away from my family situation and go mourn my grandparents when I feel the time is right. I have multiple support groups to go to that are willing to accept me and my problems. I can now start to embrace my inner Black and learn the history that was shielded from me by whites in the background and in charge.

But the thing is not everyone has these liberties and experiences that I do. Not everyone makes it to the age of 21. When Trayvon Martin died a few years back, I couldn’t tell you how many people told me that I looked like him. I remember a young Black kid that lived in my neighborhood say that to my face and laughed at it. Black Lives need the same equality that other lighter skin colors take advantage of. It’s not stripping anyone of any rights, just giving equity to everyone.

Well, in a way, it does strip rights. It strips the rights to oppress, but there shouldn’t ever be a need to oppress in the first place.

I’m going to write a book and en-capture the experiences of people that I know, and that will be the start to getting the freedom and equality and equity and liberation that has been thousands of years delayed. And I’m not just fighting for Black people, I’m fighting for all of the oppressed.

I know that the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, which I am proudly a part of, is the best shot of fighting the system. If we fail, that’s it. Every oppressed person, being, and living thing is done for.

I want my reason to be here is to fight and win. I want to plant the tree today to get the shade for tomorrow. That quote isn’t by me. I don’t remember who said it, but it fits the situation of this world currently.

So, here’s to my 21st, change, self-improvement, and to freedom.

-J.E.

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