Remembering George Floyd: Change begins with You & I

I am not white. I am not black.

Yes, I have faced racism in my life.

But I have never feared for my life or been at risk for many things that Black people face on a daily.

I rarely post anything political, it’s not because I don’t care, I’ve just didn’t have the energy to engage in conversations with people over blatantly obvious wrong doing. I always knew where I stood and chose to engage in more intimate conversations to change minds and win hearts and share my observations and a different perspective of someone who seemed invisible or almost irrelevant in the War of Races, but not particularly biased or aligned with either side. I was viewed as neutral. I was Switzerland to others in a white, black and brown (Muslim or Mexican/Latin) world. (Lest we forget our Indigenous people in this mix, that is a whole other conversation we need to have).

I can’t be silent anymore. My anger won’t let me. The last few years have gotten so bad and though I hoped things would calm down, it’s only gotten worse. Sometimes hope can be a dangerous thing. I realized it’s my privliage of not being black, that made me so foolish, because my black friends always knew and know it has been this way for them. It’s not like I didn’t know from studying history, American History in general, but I HOPED we could be better as the HUMAN race.

In September, I watched a door cam video of a 13-14 year old black boy walking to school. He was lost and late, so he rang a door bell hoping to ask for directions and took off running a few seconds later because a white man opened the door and ran out with a riffle. He was a BOY. Not a man. What kind of threat could a child be to these Martin Zimmermans of the world? My nephew is around the same age as this poor boy.

Then the news of Botham Jean’s death hit my newsfeed because the trial of off duty cop who burst into his apartment (thinking it was hers) shot him as he was chilling in HIS OWN apartment, minding his own business Netflix and chilling (like the rest of us). What in the flying F**k!?!?

There have been so many who have been murdered since Botham Jean. I am ashamed to say I lost track of their names and how many because it’s been too many, constantly one after another.

Ahmaud Arbery who was hunted like an animal to the point it was filmed like it was sport. I initially didn’t know that that, it didn’t hit Canadian news. I found out from my one of my friends who lived in Georgia, there was 3, not 2. The Third guy filmed it. The only reason we found out about Ahmaud who was killed in February was the tape was released in April by the third man’s lawyer to attest his innocence in the premeditated murder. The public pressure finally led to the arrest of those who murdered him in daylight.

On Wednesday I stumbled upon the video of George Floyd. I watched it not knowing I would be watching someone having the life slowly strangled out of him. It is chilling, heartbreaking and enraging. I like many, I cannot be silent anymore. George Floyd’s death has made me shed many tears, but not in vain, atleast not anymore.

Over the summer I was in the States I was at the check out at the store and ran back to grab something else I needed. My mom held my place in line and let the next person go ahead since I wasn’t back yet. I came back to have a middle aged African American woman apologizing profusely as she was being cashed out because my mom let her jump ahead. I was shocked as she was so fearful. I kindly told her it was OK and exchanged some kind words and well wishes. To be honest I was in shock, and it made me wonder what she encounter in her life that made her so scared even though my mom told her it was OK because we weren’t ready. I felt so bad because we were in Buffalo, NY not the deep south.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to live in a world like this. I don’t want our children or our children’s children living in a world like this. Where being black is a dramatically different experince than the rest of ours. I am ashamed to say I had a convo with one of my best friends a few years ago asking him to please, please get a dash cam for his son’s car and to please tell his son to comply if he was ever pulled over because they live in the States, in the south. I realize now, I was asking my friend to ask his teenage son to have and exercise more sense than an adult who is in a position of authority and to protect, but might not. How messed up is that? Asking a child, a minor to behave incase an adult with a weapon doesn’t. This is not the world I want to live in. This is not a world you should want to live in either. It has to change.

It’s not OK. And I’m not OK. Many of us aren’t. If you too feel this way, I beg, I implore you to post something on your stories to let others know, we will not stand for a world like this. It’s you, I and everyone we know and everyone they know that makes up society.

To my black friends, I’m sorry I didn’t take a public stance earlier. I thought having private and quiet conversations in the background would slowly change hearts. Some you are my best, closest and most cherished friends and though I’ve always understood what was happening to be wrong and felt some ways about it, I didn’t know how to fight this as I sat in my frustration or trying to process how this could still happen in present day, it’s 2020. Now I do, and it means not being silent and publicly saying “IT’S NOT OK” and “THIS has to STOP”. I will not live through a period of modern day lynching anymore and remain silent.

To my non black friends, thank you for posting something in relation to your outrage over all these senseless deaths and that most recently of George Floyd. It makes me realize I’m not alone in my rage and frustration, that this is wrong and that things have to change. Let’s do this.

I have always said if I could be a man for a day, I’d walk around at night and not deal with the fear of being assaulted. Its this fear women have for being vulnerable to violence. I hope that one day, anyone with more melanin than I have can feel the freedom to navigate in the world I do: without a second thought; without fear or reservation and threat to my life for doing normal things everyone else does.

One my favorite books which I recommend to anyone who wants to understand race relations in the US is “Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900” by Ida B. Wells. Read it. It is funny, but heartbreaking to see how relevant something written in the timeframe of post-emancipation is to what is going on today. It’s so F–ked that all Ida’s sentiments ring true today.

If you have read this far, thank you for indulging me.

One thought on “Remembering George Floyd: Change begins with You & I

  1. Racism continues to be at the root of so much pain and ugliness in our society – from the streets of Minneapolis to the disparities inflicted by COVID-19.

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