Stories and podcasts Spotlight Feature #BlackLivesMatter By Mpho Mpofu I am black and proud of my melanin. l am a professional criminologist and human rights advocate and black!! Yes, l am black and still able to everything that white people can do, at times l think l do it better (pun intended). I have worked hard for everything l have. l dedicate my life to making a difference in the world, the world that l might not live to see because l might be shot and killed. The year is 2020 and black people are still fighting for respect and an end to racism. I am tired! I am tired of constantly proving my worth, of proving l am not a criminal every time l walk into a designer outlet or a grocery store. I am tired of having to declare all my documents every time l walk through immigration because l might not return home. I am tired of being given the eye and frisked for drugs because of my hair: l have dreadlocks and that does not make me a criminal. I am tired of seeing people of colour being marginalised in every sector. One should not say a prayer to come back alive when they walk to the grocery store, one should not fear wearing a hoody and going for a run, yes l run and l should not be given suspicious looks. I have lived in different countries in North America and the UK and in all of these countries, l have felt racism. What black Americans are protesting against is not a fallacy, it is a very real and sad FACT. For the longest time, the systems have marginalised people of colour and white privilege is very real. It may not be seen by all but we live through it every single day. I experienced racism in academia and it was the worst. I went home and cried and got up determined to prove my worth. Why must l constantly prove myself when the rest of the class is doing the bare minimum? I have experienced open and subtle racism that almost ruined my self-confidence but still, l rose. I have experienced subtle racism on the tram, bus and whilst walking. I haven’t been killed yet but l won’t rule out the possibility. That is not life and this is not the world l aspire to live in. What is currently happening in America is a reflection of years of abuse and injustice to black people and people of colour. It’s called a sudden uproar only because people haven’t been paying attention to black people. Its rage from years of being oppressed, victimised and killed. Nothing is changing and we are becoming our ancestors’ dreams, standing up to white supremacy and racism for years. When George Floyd said, "l can't breathe’" it was way more than gasping for his breath, he couldn’t breathe from all the injustices that suffocated him every single day. He couldn’t breathe from the loss of opportunities that passed him every day because of the colour of his skin. He couldn’t breathe because of a system that had enabled white supremacy. George Floyd’s cry for breath was for a wakeup call for all Americans who realised that they "can’t breathe". I felt it in a different continent because l also couldn’t breathe from what was happening, a global cry by everyone who suddenly realised they were suffocating. George Floyd ignited the need in so many people to stand up and call for an end to police brutality and injustice. It's not their fight alone, it’s not their problem alone. It’s OUR problem and OUR fight. You might not be American but it affects you as well. You might not be black but it affects you as well, or maybe you prefer sitting it out until they come for your rights. This is our problem and l hope justice will be served. I hope as humans we can live together and be one. We should do better and be better.