PROTEST IN A TIME OF UNPRECEDENTED HOPE
Back in the day, we used to yell at the top of our lungs for at least one person to hear us, now we’ve got everybody in our front yard. Despite the tragic circumstances for which we have come together, there is an unprecedented sense of hope. There is hope in seeing the world collectively realize that we, Black people, are human too. There aren’t any words to describe how significant it was to march peacefully with over 1000 protesters from all walks of life through Durham, NC; a city that is so richly steeped in Black culture and Black history.
While I’m no stranger to organized protests, something about the climate of the world combined with the Coronavirus and state of emergency we have all been under, seems to have woken even the most comfortable among us.
Before the protest, a friend of mine made me aware of several things I had not even considered:
- Do not come alone,
- Be careful about who you trust!
- You must protect yourself at all times.
Not everyone at the protests is there to be on the right side of justice. Aside from journalists and peaceful protesters, you also have undercover police, secret shoppers, social media “clout chasers”, looters, and white supremacists. Although our intent was to protest peacefully, I fully understood that he who protests must understand too that at any moment things can go from nonviolent to violent. The best thing you can do is to be prepared.
In all of my years attending protests and marches, I had never seen Black people outnumbered by other races. You might ask yourself, how or why can it be possible considering the history of protests for the killing of unarmed Black people. Unfortunately, seeing unarmed black people killed unjustly is an ordinary day for those of us who are working in equity. People that have grown up Black live the experience every day in silence, but when there are protests, that gives us an opportunity to voice how we feel on a daily basis. It justifies revealing your true feelings. It helps you identify the people around you who are feeling the same way but don’t openly identify in your pain.
Cops and racism are killing Black people in this country. We are suffering every day. Only in times like these do we feel unity in expressing our common suffering. It gives you validation in your expression. It relieves the pressure when you don’t have to hold it in and can express those feelings. And we find a way to celebrate even though what we have been through is horrific. You can feel threatened by life events but it’s worse when its imposed upon you by other people out of hatred or discrimination.
Protests are empty without sustained action. The lasting thought we are all left within our minds is, what’s next? My mother always said, “Once you put your foot on a snake’s neck, you dare not relent, do not take it off, lest you be bitten again.” You cannot stop until you get some kind of action, or you will get devoured. We have to figure out what our next step is to make sure that what happened to George Floyd doesn’t happen here.