Black Lives Matter, and America took its precious time to show it


Juan Diaz / Hilltop Views

Protesters gather in Austin to fight against police brutality and racial injustice. Demonstrations like this have taken place in all 50 states and outside of the U.S. in the past week.

On June 1, 1921, nearly 100 years ago, America experienced the single worst incident of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa race massacre. In the so-called land of the free and a united nation, one would think the U.S. would be celebrating the progress it has made. The twist, though, is that there is not much progress to be recognized. 

Nearly 100 years later, our country cannot identify true, significant change, because here we are mourning the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others. This country is so incredibly torn, and many do not even see the issue with what’s unfolding before our eyes. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, was arrested. It didn’t stop there. After his arrest, four Minneapolis police officers held him down while Officer Derek Chauvin knelt his knee on Floyd’s throat, stopping his airflow, and the other on his back stopped blood flow for eight minutes and 46 seconds. A private autopsy revealed Floyd died of asphyxiation. 

On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot at several times and fatally struck by police officers searching for drug dealers who were much farther from her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. 

On February 23, 25 year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot by two men while out for a run. The two white men assumed he was violent, and fired their shotgun based on assumption alone, killing Arbery in south Georgia. They were arrested May 7.

The list doesn’t end here. I could go on about the hundreds of innocent, unarmed Black men, women and children who have been brutally murdered for no reason other than the color of their skin. 

The same people who claim to be pro-life and fight the death of a fetus are the same people who are kneeling down on an innocent man’s throat. They are the same people who say the life of a fetus is invaluable and then turn around and say nothing when someone’s life is taken away. These are the same people who post pictures on Instagram of mission trips with poor African children, quoting the bible, perhaps even adopting them, but failing to teach them the history of their ancestors and how to survive after moving them to this country. 

Being killed by the police is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. for the Black community. It’s quite preventable, but for some reason, it has never been prevented. U.S. law enforcement  was never built to keep Black Americans safe, but to keep white Americans safe from them. Despite that many Black people have done nothing but try to live a free life in this country, they are feared and constantly targeted because of the color of their skin. 

We are not the land of the free. We are the land of choosing to keep “the majority” safe, even if that means taking an innocent person’s life. We are the land that treated black people as property, so much so that when they were considered a person, they weren’t even counted as a whole person. We should be ashamed of the lack of change in this country. This is not to say that people aren’t pushing, working and yelling for change, but that those who need to work on the changing of their hearts and the system fail us.

So what is the solution? I sit here every morning and evening watching the news. My heart aches, but my heart would ache even more if I knew I was choosing to not take time out of my day to inform myself about the issues of our broken country. If you find that you have that time in your day, use it to educate yourself on not only the climate of this country, but what still remains the same from the past. 

If you don’t have time, make time. Teach your friends and family and have uncomfortable conversations about what Black Americans have to endure every day. Teach them to be aware of the conversations Black mothers and fathers have to have with their children to understand they won’t always be treated with kindness and love, and then teach your family to be the ones to treat them with a good heart. It might be uncomfortable, but what is even more uncomfortable  is that our Black brothers and sisters live in fear that they may lose their life for just existing. 

We cannot undo the slavery, lynching, unlawful prosecution, and more that has occurred in the past. But what we do have control over is the present and how we raise the next generation. We need to be living in a world where a Black man, woman or child does not have to worry about their lives as much as a white person does. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by holding ourselves and others accountable for our racist actions. It happens by confronting the system — locally, statewide and nationwide — and urging them to put their foot on the gas and get it rolling. This is not a trend, or a fleeting hashtag, it’s 42 million lives and counting at stake. 

So, if you have any good in your heart like you love to show off on social media, use it now. Use your privilege, use that good in your heart and amplify it. Because the Black community is doing everything they can to ensure a safer, better life not only for themselves, but for their children. Do your part. Sign the petitions. Donate money to bail funds, mutual aid funds and others that support Black lives and rights. And do not stop. Don’t stop the conversations, the giving, the support and the love. Do not rest until every life in this country and on this planet is seen just as valuable as a white life. 

We say “enough is enough,” but when is it, really? I thought it was enough hundreds of years ago, or ten years ago, or even a couple months ago. It is disappointing to see how long it’s taken many to see this tragedy for what it is, but I hope that time is now, and that the killing of innocent black men, women and children is no more.

If you are ready to not only be a part of the movement, but BE the movement, follow this link to find the best way you can help: