My husband and I rented an RV and left town for our anniversary last week. (I’ll tell you all more about that trip later.) That meant that I heard snatches of news here and there, but didn’t know all of what was going on until we got home. Then the onslaught of recent events hit us. While we’ve had a lot to concern us for some time, now it is even worse. This blog post is my humble attempt to respond to it all in a thoughtful way.
First, the obvious. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are only two of the latest hateful murders in a long line going back hundreds of years. Discrimination and violence against African Americans must end. Black Lives Matter. #BLM. Some of us have been saying this (or at least retweeting it) for several years. It is still true, and always has been. I am repulsed and sick at heart to see that police brutality is still occurring against Black individuals. I keep thinking, What’s wrong with those horrible murderers? Why haven’t we been able to get rid of this great cancer in our society? I wish I had easy answers to my questions, or many more I could ask.
While we’ve made some progress over the decades, it’s obviously not enough. We have far to go. And we can’t afford to wait any longer. Black adults deserve to live in peace. Black kids deserve a chance to grow up without fear. It will take all of us, Black individuals and allies—not just young protestors or families experiencing violence—to turn things around.
As a white cis het middle-class able person, I live in privilege and do not experience what my Black neighbors do. As an ally, I know that my first step is to listen, to hear what Black people are saying, and sit with them as they tell their stories. I can follow their lead and help where I can, whether financially through donations, or speaking out in writing, or walking with them in protests, whatever I can contribute. I can also spotlight Black authors and boost their signals on my social media—and of course buy and read their books. That’s another way to listen. What comes later, I’m not sure yet, but I know that if I listen, I will learn how to move forward. We must act to change our systemic racism.
The second thing that horrifies me is our runaway president. There have been issues since his first day in office three and a half years ago. Many powerful leaders, including some members of Congress, have let the president do whatever he wants with barely any reproach. It’s been four months since he was acquitted by the U. S. Senate. That emboldened him to become even more belligerent. He ordered U. S. Park Police to clear a legal demonstration in a public park, for a photo op. He threatened to set federal military forces against their fellow Americans. And that’s just two items in a long list of divisive, unconstitutional acts against his own people. His actions are getting more authoritarian every day. What scares me most is how little resistance he received. If things keep going in this direction, they won’t have any power to use against him. All of us must speak out now while we still can—on social media, in conversation, in journalism, whatever platforms we have. And we must stand together and support each other.
The United States of America can become “of the people, by the people, for the people.” But only with our participation.
P.S. The COVID-19 virus is still among us. I worry about a spike in cases. If you choose to protest in person, please wear a mask, keep as much social distance as you can, and wash your hands ASAP. It would be an ironic tragedy if people die from the pandemic as they are protesting others’ deaths.