When my protest becomes political, will you still believe Black lives matter?

Plus: 35 Policy Recommendations to Protect Black Futures

Candace Bacchus Hollingsworth
11 min readJun 1, 2020

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Growing up in Memphis, I never felt a need to either hide or display my blackness. Everyone around me was Black and you stood out by being smart and ambitious. I did not lack role models or positive examples and although I was smart, I wasn’t extraordinary; I was doing what was expected of me. One can imagine, then, how that shifts when you suddenly enter an environment where being Black was rare and it was your responsibility to show that it was — also — special.

In these environments, a so-called “elite” prep school in New Hampshire and a predominantly white university in Georgia, Black students were expected to be exceptional. We were expected to care for our community. We were taught the game where everyone plays their role in public and work in a seamless, coordinated fashion in private. In college, we aimed for influence. We had representation in the Student Government Association, the College Council, the Office of the President, the campus newspaper, the cultural organizations, the fraternities and sororities, and secret societies. It was chess, not checkers.

While my brother received direct lessons about how not to engage with police in order to preserve his life, I received subtle instruction on how to engage with white people in classrooms and board rooms. In both cases, we are taught to be mindful of our surroundings and whether your goal is to make a dollar or make it home, self-preservation was the avenue. This is not the same as avoiding your responsibility to Black people. As an African-American Studies major in college, our ethos was “academic excellence and social responsibility” and it was expected that no matter our chosen fields, we perform at the highest levels so that we can continue to be a voice (or in some cases, THE voice) contributing to the advancement of our people.

And so it is when we reach positions of power. We have operated with the assumption that we are but one of a connected many Black elected officials committed to improving the lives of Black people in America. The difference though is that the private coordinated strategizing and intellectual jousting is too few and far between. What…

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Candace Bacchus Hollingsworth

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Former Mayor of Hyattsville, MD. Memphis Made & Raised. Ellis + Zora’s Mama. Black, not POC.