Brick by Brick: If you want to get someone or something off your back, stand up!

"The weight of oppression is palpable and physical, each brick representing every individual and witness encounter with racism, the stories of what our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents endured, each talk we have had to have with our daughters and sons. These bricks are countless and add on regularly to our backs," writes author and educator Alicia Montgomery. She captured my thoughts of why I feel tired.

I have personally spoken of the talks I have had with my son and daughter. More bricks, now I am talking with my grandson and granddaughters. You will hear Black folks say that they are "tired of being sick and tired."

Just think if you started carrying bricks from the time you were old enough. Bricks in grade school because your skin or hair is different, bricks if you don't live in the right neighborhood, bricks if you are athletic and smart, more bricks when folks ask how did you get here, more bricks as to why are you here. Go on to college, discrimination in employment, discrimination in housing, discrimination just for living Black and then we die. There are many Blacks who are successful and who have reached their dream, we can only guess on the many bricks they have/endured on their backs.

Some people have asked me why I am not more angry and mad. Well, I am! Here we lay under these bricks, under the weight struggling to get up and have our opportunities, to claim our place in America as full citizens. The old folks in the Black church would say, "If you want to get someone or something off your back, stand up!" I have to say the bricks have only made me stronger. As a single Black mom, I had to survive and provide for my family and the struggle is REAL! No one knows how much weight they can endure, and what the breaking point is. Protest, rallies, marches and the outrage of recordings on the phone, Black lives being taken was our breaking point... more bricks on our backs.

In one of my many video-conferencing meetings, Dylan Dressler, a young lady of color who works with the Native Project, said, "We are only 6 percent of the population in Spokane, why do we have to do 94 percent of the work?" I thought basic math. For Spokane's Black folks the bricks are heavy and our backs are bowed. To all the many allies who have helped to make our burden lighter, thank you. This is a long journey and we need you to be able to go the distance and get some of these bricks off our backs, and don't let others put them back on. Let us take a note from Scripture when Christ said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." Let us help with each other's yokes and truly be our brother and sister's keeper. ♦

Council Member Betsy Wilkerson grew up in Spokane and has strong family roots within District 2. She is proud to be the second African American woman to serve as a council member in the city's 147-year history and has raised two children in the city. Now, as a grandmother of three, Betsy is dedicated to making sure that every resident of the city has the tools to succeed in life and that Spokane remains the City of Promise that attracts people from all over to make it their hometown.

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