27 May What the George Floyd Protests Mean to Me.
“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.” -Bob Marley
I remember the collective exhaustion we felt as we waited for a cab. We had just spent the day hiking a new trail and we were beyond exhausted. We were in Asia looking for new experiences, and it was me and a group of ex-pat friends, one who was African American and another, rugby-playing New Zealander with a dark complexion.
Four, five.… cabs passed us, refusing to stop — even though they had lighted signs that showed they were on-duty/empty. I was sitting on the curb for a moment when my two male friends came back to the curb and said it would probably be better if I tried without them. I just assumed they were tired, so I proceeded to walk towards the road and hailed a cab down. I spoke to the driver and he agreed to take us — I was relieved and waved my friends over. They started walking and the cab driver pointed asking if those were my friends…he then shook his head and waved his hands violently while shouting “no” out the window and drove away.
In my narrow worldview, I yelled in frustration, not understanding what the hell was happening. My two friends gave me a reluctant look and explained with a tired tone that this was normal. Throughout our time abroad, racism was blatant and most severe to anyone that looked, Black. They had exponentially more trouble getting jobs, approval for housing, and getting served (taxis, restaurants, hotels) than any other race.
Although that moment was not experienced in my home country in the United States, that moment was pivotal in opening my eyes to the systematic racism that targets our Black community. I have Black friends all over the world that endure comparable injustices and discrimination with incredible patience, peace, forgiveness… Their power is what gives me the courage to write as an ally.
I cannot begin to understand the pain/frustration/anger at the needless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Armery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others before them that have left wounds on our Black community. But, as an ally, I want to continue to learn and help carry the burden that truly impacts every one of us. I am only apologetic that I did not get angrier and dissatisfied fast enough.
The wounds and scars that the brokenness of our criminal justice system and the racial bias has brought upon us continue to poison the efforts that are trying to bring about change. But I believe every act of support, from social media campaigns, blog posts, and protests will enable a space where the cries of the innocent can be heard, and justice demanded.
Recently former President Barack Obama wrote a post in response to the recent protests which read:
“ The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices.”
Let’s continue to fight and make our voices heard, and yell from the top of our lungs that this racial injustice can no longer stand. We will not remain silent.
Below you’ll find some resources to educate, equip, and take action:
For those who want to provide more immediate support, one of the most direct ways to do so is monetarily. The links below highlight several local and national organizations that are fighting for justice and equality:
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Black Lives Matter
- List of organizations[supporting protesters in every city]
You can also find Black-owned businesses and restaurants to support in your community through these links:
- https://shoppeblack.us/(Search for your city to find local businesses or by topic for online)
- Black Owned Restaurants(or google “black-owned restaurant [city]” — many cities have individual listings)
- Black-owned bookstore focused on the black experience with a list of helpful books on how to be a non-black ally
Brenda Pak is a Co-Founder at BackPac, a platform devoted to Modern-Day Activism and to making volunteering easy and impactful.