"As the riots and protests have escalated these past few weeks, I have been wanting to share my voice.
I think one thing that is important to understand is that racism happens everywhere, even in a small “Christian” town. I have experienced it myself, but I have shrugged it off, or put it to the side because I am afraid of causing conflict, or people not understanding that what they say actually affects me. As I have had time over the years to mature and rethink over the instances, I have become aware to the fact that I shouldn’t be so complacent. Ever since I have come to Lynden, being black has been really hard. ￼I have felt isolated and lonely and unheard. I have felt the need to try and be more “white,” but then people w￼ould tell me that I’m “whitewashed” and I’m not actually black, but how do I become more black? This is a struggle I’ve had for most of my life, the struggle of finding a place where I feel comfortable. I grew up in a white family and a white community but that doesn’t mean I’m not black or do not resonate with the pain black people in America are experiencing right now.
So here we go, this is a small look into what I have experienced as a black woman in a white community.
What I have experienced at school:
-people asking why I don’t act more “black” like it’s a personality
-people asking me if it’s ok for them to say the “n word”
-everyone staring at me when we would reach the topic of slavery
-someone saying the “n word” when they knew I was right behind them
-people telling me I’m not black enough
There’s probably some that I have missed but that’s what school feels like. Sometimes when I was younger. I would avoid going in the sun because I didn’t want to be darker. I so badly wanted to fit in with my white friends.
And here’s my story of racism I have experienced:
-last summer I was garage sailing with my friends (white). I saw some cute shorts and held them in my hand while I browsed for other things to buy. As I was browsing the woman holding the garage sale asked me 4 TIMES. “ Are you going to buy that” she would come up to me every other minute and ask that question. I didn’t realize the racism until I left. I asked my friends if they were asked the same question and they said no. It hurt me so much, that she thought I would steal the shorts because of my skin color and felt that she needed to ask more than once, even though I was with my friends and had my wallet in hand. I hope that the people of lynden can open their eyes to not only what is happening around the world to POC but also what is occurring right here in Lynden(Whatcom County)." Amsa Burke
Here is a link to watch both speeches Amsa made at the rally!