June 15, 2020 by Cláudia
After the commitment I made to make anti-racism an integral part of my life, both online and offline, I have been trying to figure out what my place is within the movement. As someone who has never experienced racism directly, there has been a lot of discomfort, doubt and fear of overstepping. I know I’ll make mistakes on this journey. But I want to learn. I do not feel like it is my place to comment on racism. Black voices matter. And black voices have been telling us what it is like to be discriminated against because of skin colour for a long time. Which is why I will be taking a step back and letting those who are at the forefront of the movement take the stage. This post will be a compilation of reflections, speeches and quotes from black writers, thinkers and activists about racism in current times. Please follow the links to find the full pieces.
On the Black Lives Matter movement
We have been fighting and advocating to stop a war on black lives. And that is how we see it—this is a war on black life. And people understand that this system is filled with all sorts of inequality and injustice, and that implicit bias and just outright racism is embedded in the way that policing is done in this nation—and when you think about it historically, it was founded as a slave patrol. The evolution of policing was rooted in that. People recognize that. So their frustration is absolutely about the policing and the criminal-justice system writ large and the racial dimensions of it, and its lethal impact on our communities.
So our demands are also reflective of the fact that when we started Black Lives Matter, it wasn’t solely about police brutality and extrajudicial killing. That was a spark point, but it was very intentional for us to talk about the way that black lives are cut short all across the board. You can talk about the quality of our life in terms of housing and education and health-care systems and the pandemic and what we are seeing there. So for us it has been more comprehensive than just the criminal-justice system and policing. It’s bigger than that.
We are tired. We are hurting. And we don’t deserve any of this. But don’t get it twisted, for our people we will still be out here.
If you REALLY believed in the ‘all lives matter’ narrative that some of you severely want to push, you would understand why #BlackLivesMatter.
Right now, ‘all’ doesn’t include us. So really I question what is your definition of ‘all?’ Your ‘all’ clearly doesn’t include Black People. We are being marginalised, at every crossroad and institution. So those who really care for our lives are helping us fight this marginalised #BlackLivesMatter movement.
On the murder of George Floyd
There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? I have and I believe, albeit cautiously, that George Floyd’s death, murder, execution, lynching — for it’s that horrific, it has multiple ways to describe it — and the resulting global protests have stirred an awakening; a global soul searching of sorts that deep into the 21st century, we are still dealing with the issues of the early 20th century.
I think that this moment of global angst is a pause semicolon that is forcing us to think and reflect on weighty issues such as what it means to be human, to live in a just society and what it means to be my brother’s keeper. For it just doesn’t make sense in this day and age for a sworn guardian of the peace to snuff out another man’s life so callously, oblivious to his loud pleas for air. It is unconscionable.
I demand change now and I’m sad that it takes another black man’s life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor.
You need to use your voice no matter how big or small your platform is, you need to use your voice.
On consecutive trauma, exhaustion and disappointment
I am a Black woman, and I am exhausted. My reality is déjà vu. Every uncomfortable social experience is reminiscent of a moment that has already occurred, a feeling that I’ve felt before. And unfortunately, I have lived these moments, over and over. I’ve felt the same, every time–hurt and confused. In 2014, when Mike Brown, an unarmed black teen was murdered by Darren Wilson, a white police officer in my hometown of Ferguson, Missouri, I felt the same pain, frustration, fear, and anger that I feel now. It’s 2020. There have been countless others, murdered and reduced to hashtags. It has taken me weeks to be able to fully process what is now, rather, what has always been unfolding in America.
I watched the world fail to deliver justice to the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 after he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, spawning the #BlackLivesMatter Movement in 2013.
I felt the fear of Black mothers everywhere when 12-year-old Tamir Rice’s killing made national news after Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann fatally shot the boy in 2014 because the youth dared to play with a toy gun in a public park.
And I heard Eric Garner’s infamous last words, “I can’t breathe,” as New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a fatal chokehold in 2014.
By the time I was 20, America had conditioned me to accept that the public display and criminalization of dead Black male bodies at the hands of white authority, whether police or vigilante, remained mainstream and almost always unpunishable seven decades after the murder of Emmett Till in 1955.
The world is at war with its history at the moment. We, as members of the global community, are experiencing a consistent cycle of traumas that replicates the traumas our eldest ancestors have felt. Pandemics are not new. Wars among leaders are not new. Unfortunately, Black death is not new either.
What kind of society do we want and deserve?
The system must be dismantled and replaced with a new system based on equity, justice and equal access to quality education and economic opportunities for all. if the present economic and social system does not fall, come 2100 my grandchildren will still be having the same conversation that we are having now; which conversation is the same my parents were having in the 1960s.
Thank you for reading. Let’s keep the discussion going. Do you think this is a helpful way of using my online platform in allyship with the #BlackLivesMatter movement? I’m thinking of doing something like this semi-regularly (maybe monthly?). What other online and offline behaviours can be helpful in amplifying black voices?