For days I have struggled with how to say what I am feeling while being abroad and seeing the news unfold in the States.
When the last election happened, I found myself in my condo and in a constant state of panic. Because even then I knew what could (and what later would) happen with someone like the person that is currently occupying the White House in office. I started referring to him as ‘King John’ and expediting my plans to travel overseas, because I did not want to live in the US under his presidency.
Now here we are, almost 4 years later and protests are sparking world wide due to police brutality against its citizens – mainly those of us that are black. Yes, I am specifically talking about black people in this post. To continue to use POC and Black interchangeably would be a disservice to the cause and I will not do it anymore. Also, this post is about my thoughts and feelings about the protests and I do not identify as simply a poc/woc – I am unapologetically a black woman.
Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home. There should have been an outcry for justice then, but almost 3 months after her death received little to no news or justice of any kind. She became just another hashtag and it infuriates me still to think about how marginalized we are as black women when it comes to senseless acts of violence and slow acts of justice.
Then Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd deaths took place almost back to back – with videos documenting these horrible acts. The world responded and now protests are taking place, calling forth long overdue change within the Justice System and those that protest are being met with tear gas and rubber bullets that have enough power to fracture an adults’ skull (I sat through hours of video and pictures to confirm this intel). This is all happening during a pandemic, so read this part again – law enforcement are using tear gas on its citizens during an air bourne (covid-19) pandemic.
There is a saying that if you don’t learn from your history, then you are bound to repeat it. The US is giving the world an example of that now. Freedom Riders and protesters from the Civil Rights Movement faced dogs, being sprayed with water, and assaulted with clubs from the police not even a century ago for the same reasons that those protesting now are and it makes my heart heavy to see it all unfold.
The thing is, as a black woman, I saw this coming. It was never a question of, “What if” but “When”. There is only so much a society can stand before it screams for change. Peaceful protest after peaceful protest being met with violence from the oppressors. Congress refusing to make strong and lasting change in the laws that hurt instead of help its constitutes. Black people being killed by those who swore to protect and serve in their neighborhoods and never being tried for their crimes – never giving so much as an ounce of justice to their loved ones.
What would any sane person expect to happen?
I see my social media feeds light up with weak ass, context lacking news reports about ‘riots’ and find myself in awe of their ignorance. So I look pass those incomplete stories and to my friends’ feeds instead. I watch my friends, being the allies that we need, as they educate themselves about why the protests are happening and what they can do to help. Over the last few weeks I have watched groups organize and take action, like a wave to shore. They started small and gained momentum and are swelling with support – drawing in attention that then brings with it more folks ready to do the work needed to get the message out to others.
Each time I get a notification, no matter what time it is, I check it to see what the latest news is right now. Sometimes there is misinformation, or news about people going to the protest to create divide and agitate those involved. Lately there are reports of cops using kettling tactics to trap protesters well before the curfew time with the attempt to cause them harm or arrest them later. But in the midst of all that are others showing up and protecting those protesters by allowing them in their homes, giving them food, shelter, and safe passage away from the police.
I say all this to let you know how I came to accept how I feel now. Seeing all this while being abroad is hard. I see my friends fighting the good fight and I wish like hell that I could be there beside them. Each night I check my IG to make sure that those who went out to protest made it back home safely. Every other day I get messages from friends ‘checking up’ on me to make sure that I am mentally okay. I reply as best as I can, but to be honest, each day my mental state is strained to say the least. My only hope, outside of those that I love remaining safe is that these protests lead to a much needed change and that this growing sense of unity globally continues.
As far as me doing something to help raise awareness to the cause, I have decided to donate where I can to a few organizations and take part in a Black Lives Matter virtual protest on June 6th.
You can find out more about this protest by clicking here.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for listening.
Be Inspired and Stay Inspiring.