Standing in Solidarity for Anti-Racism and Black Lives Matter
Like so many, I am heartbroken by the murder of George Floyd. Like so many I have felt compelled to join protests this past week because his callous execution by those whose job it is to keep us safe, following the video of Amy Cooper knowingly wielding the power of her whiteness to threaten a Black man, following the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia – one where his killers would be facing impunity if not for the video and national outcry – has pulled back the curtain and shown me the exact racist, terrorizing system that Black people in America have long told white America about.
I have never understood more clearly the danger that law enforcement poses to Black Americans and the safety it ensures me than on Tuesday in Franklin Park when police drove into a crowd of peaceful protestors on their way out, lined up against us wielding batons, and someone shouted “white people to the front.” Standing in front of the cop and the baton, I held my hands up and I tried very hard not to cry because I was scared, and because I saw our nation’s history of slavery, of Jim Crow, Selma, the slave block, and the continued racism that terrorizes Black people day in and day out. And I knew so clearly that I will never truly understand.
On this National Day of Mourning, I stand in solidarity with those protesting the police killing of Black people in the United States. And I deepen my commitment to strengthening the levers of democracy so that the people – all people, and especially Black people – can hold government including the police accountable. I deepen my commitment to this fight to expand access to the ballot, to reduce the influence of money and private interests in politics, and to build the kind of truly representative democracy that we have long lauded but never achieved, so that ours is a country where Black Americans can finally feel and be safe and achieve equity, along with everyone else. I am committed to these reforms so that our history of political, racial, and extreme socio-economic inequality can one day be history.
I know that achieving this change is slow and that the lives and safety of Black Americans cannot wait any longer, and that it is a deep injustice and a horror that they have had to wait at all. I remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, that “riots are the language of the unheard,” and I understand this week’s protests in Boston and across the country are not only the voice of the unheard but a rebellion against a system that keeps Black Americans unsafe. They are calls for swift justice that have long been made and routinely ignored: justice for George Floyd, justice for Breonna Taylor, justice for Ahmaud Arbery, justice for Dominique Clayton, justice for Eric Reason, justice for Laquon McDonald, justice for Atatiana Jefferson, justice for Botham Jean, justice for Philando Castile, justice for Bettie Jones, justice for Walter Scott, justice for Natasha McKenna, justice for Tamir Rice, justice for Tanisha Anderson, justice for Michelle Cusseaux, justice for Ezell Ford, justice for Tony McDade, justice for Eric Garner, justice for Michael Brown.
I ask you to support the protests and movement for Black Lives by donating to the following organizations, and to reading and sharing the resources below. If your health allows, I also encourage you to protest. At Common Cause, we build on the legacy of and victories secured by Martin Luther King Jr. and Black Americans during the Civil Rights Movement and long after. We are fighting to secure as accessible and safe elections as possible, so that we can use our voice at the ballot box and hold our government accountable. I hope you join us in honoring their work by voting this fall, and fighting to strengthen our election laws too.
Kristina Mensik, Common Cause Massachusetts
Mass Action Against Police Brutality
Families for Justice as Healing
Read, view, and share:
George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
The Death of George Floyd, In Context, The New Yorker
The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic
The 1619 Project, The New York Times
Op-Ed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge, Los Angeles Times
An Antiracist Reading List, The New York Times *includes many more resources*
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson