A Former Southbay 19 Under 19 Honoree Offers His Perspective on Black Identity and Visibility Right Now

Brave. Not free.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Malgy Blue
  • Illustrated by
    Yuiko Sugino

It is not lost on me that I have been asked to write this because I fit the role of the Black man that most White people are comfortable with. However, rather than being offended, I will use this opportunity to provide my perspective on racism in this country.

If I were to walk outside wearing a hoodie today, my country wouldn’t see me as a bright young man. Instead, I am seen as a threat for simply existing. At a traffic stop, the officer interacting with me doesn’t see that I’m a loving big brother, an Eagle Scout or the recipient of an academic scholarship … because of my skin.

At the moment when an officer makes a judgment about who I am with his knee on my neck for nine minutes while I beg for my life, none of my accomplishments matter. To that officer and this country, Black lives continue to not matter.

To those of you who respond to the Black Lives Matter movement by stating “all lives matter,” you are protesting the fight against racism in this country. Of course all lives matter. But by stating this you are dismissing the injustice that Black Americans face, and you fail to acknowledge the white privilege that is so prevalent within this country.

Now this may seem uncomfortable for a White person to read, but what’s really uncomfortable is walking the streets in a predominately White neighborhood or on campus where I have no control over how I will be perceived, labeled or treated. I say this to encourage the U.S. to have these uncomfortable conversations so that people can understand what it is like to be Black in America.

Although for change to occur, understanding is not enough. Phrases like “I’m not racist” are not enough. In order to fight the battle against racism, the minimum requirement is to be actively anti-racist by constantly speaking out against injustice. This comes in the form of speaking up when a friend or family member makes a racist comment, signing petitions, protesting and donating.

White privilege should be used to speak up, and if you are not willing to be a voice against injustice, you become a part of the problem. Vocal unity against the clear injustice toward Black people in America is the promotion of the freedom that our country values so highly.

Today the battle is not Black people versus White people. It is Americans against racial prejudice and injustice. Our national anthem states that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. However, as a Black man who calls America his home, I know what it is to be BRAVE. Yet I am not free, and I will not be free until Black Lives Matter.

Malgy is a graduate of Redondo Union High School. He is currently entering his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in economics with a mathematics emphasis.