Facilitated by Camille Iman Woods
Untitled by Gabriel Patterson
“I can’t breathe,” yet I continue to tell myself to remain calm. I put my “hands up” and over my head because from an early age I was taught that doing so helps to expand the lungs, optimizing the flow of oxygen throughout the body…. As a member of a very small African American population in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my childhood and adolescence were not without challenges and I became well acquainted with the racial inequities and injustice that reverberate in U.S. society. I understood that, based solely on the difference in our skin tone to that of our peers, my brothers and I were somehow viewed as inherently different, even inferior, to our White and Latino friends. Every parent is concerned about their children and all the risks and dangers in our world (i.e. motor vehicle accidents, illness, injury, rape, death, financial hardship, etc). However, as parents of three Black males, my mothers and fathers have had an additional set of concerns that are unique and shared with Treyvon Martin’s parents, Michael Brown’s parents, and a list of many other violent incidents that is in no way exhaustive….Regardless of my intelligence, education, great upbringing through my family and the values I carry, society will only see my surface. I’ve had people (of all ethnicities) tell my brothers and I that we’re different because we’re “articulate,” lack the stereotypical ghetto accent, or defy any additional criteria of their conditioned notion of what it means to be Black…. Social scientists who study our hidden biases demonstrate that we are more likely to associate Black people with negative words and imagery than we are White people. In this so-called “colorblind” post-racial America, micro-aggressions, implicit biases, and unfairly implicating Black people in their own deaths surround our lives. The jury has spoken….I don’t know what is best, but I always try to Do the Right Thing. I choose to speak out against the racial bias that still infects our society and distorts our perception of one another. I always try to make my voice heard, to make a difference in the lives of those close to me…Não tenha medo da escuridão, nem tudo que é negro remete a escravidão, não tenha medo da escuridão, nunca mais, nem tudo que é preto remete ao medo não.
Gabriel Dixon is a first year M.S. student in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry here at UC Davis. Gabriel loves the outdoors, traveling and learning about culture along the way. He loves to rock climb and play percussion when he’s not studying in the library. Involved with Brazilian Samba here on campus and a huge reggae fan, Gabriel engages with the intersection between music and culture while maintaining his studying of environmental change and innovation.
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