I love my blackness. I love the tone of my skin, the texture of my hair, the size of my lips, my curves (or lack thereof.) I love my black culture and everything that comes along with it.

One of those things, more towards the unfortunate side of the spectrum, is moments like this, in which black men and women are killed by the same people who are supposed to serve and protect us. In these moments we cry out in defense of our fallen brothers and sisters, we protest their wrongful deaths, and we pray for a change. We create dialogue regarding the situation. We trend things on Twitter and march through the streets. We do this because black lives matter. And what we have is exactly that: black lives.

But in all of this, there is one distinct voice that is missing. There is one voice that should fit into the harmony but it’s nowhere to be found. It’s not that this particular voice was silenced by any outside force. This voice silenced itself.

It’s the voice of every non-black person who partakes in and enjoys black culture.

You see, everyone wants to be black until it’s time to be black. They want our culture until it’s convenient for them. Then they hang it up in their closet because to them, our culture is an outfit they take off and put on as they please.

They listen to music by black artists, they join in on popular black dances, they copy our hairstyles, and some even get their bodies surgically altered to mimic the features of black women.

Yet, when our people are being slaughtered in the streets… they don’t have to deal with that. When another #JusticeFor hashtag starts trending, they slowly slip off the fun and trendy side of black culture and hang it in their closet. And for most, it doesn’t come off of the hanger until that hashtag makes its way down the Twitter trends list and the one who was killed is no longer at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

This is extremely hurtful. Because we don’t get to escape it. To us, this is a harsh reality. Police brutality and racial injustice are everyday occurrences, but it’s only every so often that it gets recorded and goes viral over social media. When we have children, we’re going to have to teach them how to talk to police officers and how to handle those situations, in hopes that our children would come home alive.

But you, you who love our culture so much, you won’t have to do that. You won’t have to tell your children not to walk with a hood on or their hands in their pockets. You won’t have to tell your children to say “yes, sir” and “no, sir” and “thank you, sir” in every encounter they have with law enforcement. You won’t have to tell them to keep their hands visible at all times. You won’t have to tell them that they could lose their life over selling CD’s (Alton Sterling), having a busted taillight (Philando Castile), or playing with a toy gun (Tamir Rice.) You won’t have to worry about your fathers, brothers, friends, etc, going out, not coming home, and their killer getting off scot-free simply because they have a badge on.

Our culture isn’t a trend. In all honesty, there is no problem with enjoying the aspects of black culture. But the problem is when those who partake in our culture magically disappear when issues like this arise. Because we need all the voices we can get. We need you to speak up, speak out, and tell people that racism and police brutality are not okay. We need you to educate yourself and others, and stand up for justice.

from the mind of a young black girl,

manna zel.

**This post originally appeared on Manna's blog, "From the Mind of a Young Black Girl".**