When is the cost too high? When will those with power hear the voice of the people they govern and protect? When will being born black not come with the possibility of an automatic death sentence? I will never know what it’s like to be afraid to go for a jog for fear of being chased down and shot. I will never have someone with a badge steal my last breath with his knee because of a non-violent crime. Blood is on the hands of everyone who says nothing, of everyone who sees the toll of lives lost to senseless prejudice and looks away.
Until the unwarranted, relentless theft of black lives in this country is met with more than a pouty lip and a slap on the wrist then we aren’t done fighting. Black Americans may not be slaves any longer, but doubt not that they are still imprisoned by a country that punishes them for the pigment of their skin. Until all Americans stand as one free people, We are not free. Until the good cops stand up to the bad ones, We are not safe. If one American is oppressed, We are not free. Until all Americans are unchained from the deadly results of racism, We are not free. Black Lives Matter, and until that fact is universally installed, We are not free.
Our country is harboring a sickness born of our own choices 400 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, 4 years ago. The riots and protests in Minneapolis and what’s happened before in cities like it, where the grapes of wrath are harvested, are the direct result of our failure as a society to rectify the toll of centuries old racism.
Systematic racism. Culturally ingrained sexism. The white archetypal exacerbation of xenophobia and fear of the ‘other.’ Those are the disease. And as Donald Trump has made abundantly clear this past week, he’s just a symptom, a cyst that finally burst all over American life.
If we want to change, if we want to heal the sickness and the wounds it’s left, we all have to commit to being the solution. We all have to understand that there will be a systematic change, and that we must undertake a re-education of our national identity, our fundamentals. Ashamed, I admit I’ve been part of the problem, if only in my unwillingness to speak up. Our silence is racism’s greatest weapon, but today I’m committing to never again be in that silence voice. I hope you’ll join me in taking up a new sword and shield: your own voice.
Too many have been murdered, too many to count. Take a moment and remember these names. We raise our voice for them.
Brace yourselves, for we’re standing in the midst of American history. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Be a friend and speak up.