The past few months of coronavirus fears have been scary, but the other virus that’s hurtling at full speed throughout the country is even scarier: racism, particularly the evil force of racist-fueled murders. Three people within such a short period of time: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. All completely innocent; all who our system has failed. Though only three lives were taken, countless lives are shattered and destroyed, and countless lives were taken before them. “Enough is enough” is a phrase that should not rest until real change is made. Justice is long overdue.
Some of you may have loved ones who work in more dangerous professions — fire protection, police protection (keyword: protection), electrical engineers, roofers, pilots, other kinds of labor work, etc., and I’m sure it’s crossed your mind more than once to feel a little worried when you send that person off to work every day. But imagine this: imagine that worry becomes an all-encompassing, soul-shattering fear that lingers throughout every second of every long day, constantly, not because of a loved one’s profession, but because of the color of their skin. Because it’s more than worrying about that loved one going out or being in the wrong place at the wrong time — now, they’re being attacked in their own homes, the places they’re supposed to feel safest. They’re being stereotyped and attacked over alleged counterfeit bills, stereotyped and attacked over wearing hooded sweatshirts, stereotyped as “threatening” and manhandled with brute force in a way that a white man would not be (and an armed white man, let alone that) and it is sickeningly, appallingly gut-wrenching.
Now, I could sit here and say ACAB all day or I could flip it and say, “but I have friends or family members who are cops and they’re good people!” That doesn’t matter at this point. That doesn’t help. Because despite your friend or family member who’s one of the good ones, there is still an overpowering amount of bad ones, of people who totally disregard their police oaths and continue to murder innocent Black people every day. They’re determined to remain in a position of power, one of superiority, but that needs to be overthrown. As long as there continue to be police out there who abuse their powers for evil, they are representative as a whole of group who is designed to protect and isn’t doing it. There is not one person on Earth who is more superior than anyone else. The system has been rigged against Black people for far too long and in countless situations.
Institutional racism needs to be recognized and dismantled. Take some time to examine your conscience, those of your loved ones, and start preparing your fight to condemn hate today. It’s okay if you are still learning (we all are, and we should want to learn every day), if you need help, but don’t delay any longer. Black allyship is not flippantly saying, “I’m not racist because I have black friends.” It requires action.
First, recognize your privilege. It’s been said before but bears repeating: being privileged does not mean you did not have a hard life; it just means it wasn’t made harder because of the color of your skin. Recognize that, and realize that all people deserve the same comfort and security that you have. Until every person can do the things you do and take for granted each day without fear, you should not rest. It’s time to get uncomfortable. You can love your country, but you should not have pride in it until it really is the “Land of the Free,” not just the land of the free for white people. Next, educate yourself. Read. Read memoirs, read unbiased news articles, read scholarly sources, read directly from the Black community, and make real effort to understand, retain, and spread the information to those who need it. Call out white people who abuse their privilege.
You can text Floyd, Enough, and Justice to 55156, which will take you to helpful resources, petitions you can sign, and other opportunities to assist. You can donate to the GoFundMe set up for George Floyd, you can donate to Black Visions Collective, and you can donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. You can call for justice by dialing Minnesota officials. You can call your own city officials. You can write to legislators. You can and need to vote. Even if you feel helpless in your homes, there are actions you can take, and we will not take this lying down.
Please, let us unite together as a community to bring about positive change for a nation that is so badly damaged. Let’s prevent the loss of innocent lives. Let’s make it so that a police officer thinks twice -no, several times- before using unnecessary force on a Black man, that our cities hold those who swear to protect us accountable when they don’t. That police brutality is totally unnecessary and that an officer listens and releases if a Black man cannot breathe, if he is pain from the the unnecessary force. Let’s change the world so greatly that a Black mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend can rest their heads at night without fearing for their lives and their loved ones. Let’s make a difference.
To the many Black people who’ve lost their lives to policy brutality, rest in peace; rest in power. #BlackLivesMatter