The time for change has come, take a stand

Photo: Kendall Stephens

When COVID-19 struck into our lives like a lightning bolt from Zeus himself, disrupting everything we considered normal, I knew the worst was yet to come. I knew that there would be significant casualties in the wake of the devastating pandemic. I knew that every aspect of our daily routines would take an abrupt about-face. I was certain that the majority of us wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves as we settled into our “new normal.” 

The four walls of our nests are becoming a bit too familiar. The world around us seems to be unraveling, if not imploding, and we are struggling to make sense of a series of unknowns and unprecedented events affecting our foreseeable future. Then, as if we needed any more darkness in our current grim reality, the murder of yet another unarmed Black man by a white police officer was captured on video and then subsequently posted online in an expedient, viral fashion. 

The country saw it, the world saw it, and sadly, so did our children. There was no denying what we witnessed; cold-blooded murder by an officer sworn to protect and serve our communities. Naturally, the Black community became outraged by the gruesome killing of our country’s latest victim of police brutality; however, this murder was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. There was something disturbingly and frighteningly wicked about the officer’s affect as he slowly and painfully asphyxiated George Floyd with his intentional neck-crushing knee. George Floyd experienced almost nine minutes of excruciating pain and seemingly endless distress as officer Derek Chauvin emotionlessly choked the life out of him. There was no empathy, care or anything humane about what happened, but one thing was made abundantly clear; the Black community and their allies were going to make a stand. George Floyd’s murder was an all-too-real representation of the symbolic knee that has been crushing the spirit, hope, potential and dignity of the Black community for hundreds of years. The Black community is sick and tired of the centuries-old systemic oppression and social inequities that have become our shame-filled cultural narrative.

Similarly, while the LGBTQ+ community ushered in Pride month with the devastating news that trans man Tony McDade was gunned down by Tallahassee police, we demand our voices be heard. The LGBTQ+ community stands in solidarity as we demand justice for the senseless assaults and killings of the members of our communities, which disproportionately affect trans people of color. The bottom line; real change must come and come fast to our most vulnerable marginalized communities. 

We no longer want to teach our young Black boys about the dangers of police interaction before we teach them about the birds and the bees. We no longer want to live in a country where the Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ community is disproportionately targeted, incarcerated and murdered by a system that was built to weaponize their struggles against them. We no longer want to be held back by a profound lack of privilege that the majority has access to in totality. What we do want is systemic change on a legislative and societal level that will allow opportunity and prosperity to be made available to all disenfranchised communities. We don’t just want forced institutional structures of inclusion designed to satisfy our cries for change and fairness. We want the pervasive societal climate of racism, divisiveness, bigotry and hate to be transposed with the perpetual persistence of understanding, the dogged insistence on community-building and the peaceful coexistence of our cultures. 

We stem the tide of oppression when the majority is impassioned to become true allies and utilize their privilege, positions, platforms and power to magnify the often stifled voices of the Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities. Silence and inaction on the part of the majority in response to social injustice in all minority communities, especially the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, makes those individuals categorically complicit in the furthering of such injustice. 

We will only succeed in our humanitarian effort to obliterate hate and promote community intersectionality if we unlearn our explicit and implicit biases that fuel divisiveness and cultural mistrust. It is time now to take a stand for what is right. COVID-19 has forced the world to pay undivided attention to the state of the world, as we no longer have the ability to turn a blind eye to the intergenerational societal injustice, pain and hurt that our sisters, brothers and others have experienced for far too long. Durkheim suggested that if there is injustice in our society, criminality is a response to it. So, while I strongly detest the rioting that devastated our cities economic district, I recognize the action as a manifestation of the deep prisons of pain that minorities have been psychologically, spiritually and physically locked in. The writings on the wall are as clear and as bold as ever; we are collectively grieving for our country. We can do better, America. Let us rise to the occasion and be change-makers in the quest to right the many wrongs that continue to stain the image of our great country. That is how we make America great. Not great “again,” but for once.