Change is palpable.
I didn’t know what to expect from a crowd of folks who had been protesting in my city over the past few weeks but I felt compelled to lend my voice to a movement addressing the climate of systemic racism against people of color. Being in the middle of a group of people, from all walks of life, joined together in solidarity against something that’s been going on forever but has never gotten this much support during my lifetime made my heart flutter. It was young Americans finally following the blueprint already laid for us by the Civil Rights Movment. We pulled a page out of the playbook of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference for those unfamiliar) with disruptive obedience.
I could feel meaningful change being ushered in as I stood 6 feet away from people who checked different boxes than black when they had to identify themselves. We knelt for eight minutes in acknowledgement of a black man who unjustly lost his life. We uttered “I can’t breathe”, just as he did and called for our mothers too. I hope George Floyd’s family understands that his death, though devastatingly irreversible, was the catalyst for so many to open their eyes.
Protesting with thousands of strangers one Saturday when I was off work felt good to my soul. It wouldn’t bring George or Ahmaud Arbery or the now eternally sleeping Breonna Taylor back to those who loved them but it was our way of saying this is going to stop and we’ll march until it does. I found myself in tears because I saw at least as many non black faces in a crowd that didn’t seem to end. They understand that if People of color were able to achieve equality without them we would’ve already had it. Change, in a meaningful way, comes only from a United way. Obviously taking a knee and marching does not guarantee that there will not be another Botham Jean, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Philando Castile and the endless list of others executed unjustly by those sworn to protect and serve. But this time, it’s not business as usual. This time the protests continued. This time Democrats are preparing legislation aimed at police reform and prosecuting hate crimes. This time our law enforcement officials are forced to listen to our heartbreak even if they weren’t directly involved with those murders. This is on behalf of every person of color and our allies who died unacknowledged during the Civil Rights Movement, Reconstruction and Slavery.
For Emmitt Till, Medgar Evans and the good man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I would be remissed If I failed to acknowledge that innocent people have died in this who weren’t just unarmed blacks. Cops have been targeted, too, by those who’ve used the cover of protest to justify their own spiteful intent. Those who choose a way of ignorance will justify this as an eye for an eye but compassion is at least a two way street. Many of these men and women who police our streets have spoken out against police brutality and especially against the officer who murdered George Floyd. In the spirit of unity, we need law enforcement to work in tandem with us for police reform.
And the wave of change has to make move to the voting booth this November. It is time out for elected officials who choose to bury their heads in the sand so that their bubble of obliviousness is not threatened by the reality that people expect things to be done. From the White House to City Hall any resistance to action on racial bias should be seen as being complacent with the status quo. We cannot expect change from elected officials who only want to serve their base. Every one who holds an electable office has a responsibility to EVERYONE
in his or her constituency. The way we illustrate this message is by voting in droves against anybody who opposes this ideology.
By: Shon Scott