by Alma Musvosvi
Like a lot of PUC students, I come from a typical Adventist family. With that comes the typical rules of an SDA household, one of them being no TV from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. I don’t think I had ever seen the TV on during Sabbath hours, that was, however, until Saturday, July 13, 2013. By all means, it was a normal Sabbath. We had gone to church, went to potluck and my sisters and I attended the after church youth program. By the time we were headed home, my parents had already been there for a few hours, and we figured we find them in the middle of their routine Sabbath afternoon nap. When we walked through the front door, we immediately realized that was not the case. The first thing we heard when we stepped into the house was the TV. My sisters and I glanced at each other with questioning looks on our faces. We slowly inched our way toward the living room. My dad was sitting on the couch, leaning forward with his arms crossed over his chest; my mom was in a similar position. Neither of them acknowledge that we had just walked into the room. I remember wanting to ask what was going on, but I held my tongue and checked to see what was on TV. It read, Breaking News: Trayvon Martin Verdict Not Guilty (Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in February of 2012. Zimmerman claims the two got into a physical altercation and he killed Martin in self-defense). My sisters and I took a seat on the couch. All five of us sat on that three-person couch watching different journalists deliver the same heartbreaking news. No one said a word for the rest of that day. No one ate dinner or changed the channel. When it was time to sleep we all just made our way upstairs and tried to sleep.
This was the day that I had to come to terms with what it meant to be black in America. I had experienced racism before, but this was different. I was expecting the jury to send Zimmerman to prison. Instead, Zimmerman went free, and people across the country were trying to come up with reasons why the Black Lives Matter movement was invalid. Before the not guilty verdict, I thought that racism was an idea that occasionally manifested itself when people called me the n-word. I didn’t realize that is was and is still much more toxic than that. I no longer felt safe taking walks around the suburbs where I live. I am in constant fear that someone will think my dad is breaking into our own house, when in reality he’s just coming back from work. I’m afraid for my male teenage cousins, who don’t really understand the danger of walking outside with a hoodie. One of the hardest parts of all of this, is realizing that your country is indifferent to your pain. Most Americans will never attend a black lives matter protest or write to their congress people to demand police reform to combat police brutality. Most Americans are fine with letting things continue the way that they are. That is the reality that we live in. That is why black history month is so important. It reminds us of the work that those who came before us have done and the progress we have seen because of their sacrifices. It reminds us that we need to do the same for the people who come after us.