Black Lives Matter.
Are you listening to the cries of your fellow Americans?
Our country needs us. The Black community needs us. I ask that as you’re reading this, to please keep an open mind. We all come from different backgrounds and belief systems, but at the end of the day we are all citizens of the same nation who have the opportunity to work towards a common goal. Society is in need of major remodeling, but that can’t happen if we don’t stand up and act now.
I would certainly be shocked if as you’re reading this, you are unaware of the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept the nation in response to George Floyd’s murder. In a rare happenstance, a vast number of citizens from across all 50 states have united and rallied for the same cause: for the end of the unfair treatment towards the Black community, police brutality, racism, and white supremacy in the United States.
Many might say that we live in a broken society – in some ways, I can see where they’d be coming from. But if I’m being honest, I’m not quite sure our society is “broken”. To be “broken” means that something that was once in good condition has been damaged. And that’s the issue. We don’t want to go back to a previous state because society was never perfect. American culture has glorified and benefitted the white community (and sometimes even those who are white-passing), while marginalizing and villainizing people of color. It’s not about repairing society, but constructing a new one where there is justice, equality, and freedom for all.
George Floyd’s death did not bring to light anything new. It wasn’t a new sign that something was suddenly wrong in our county. No. We have seen these gruesome acts of violence, hatred, and racism towards the Black community since 1619. To think that over 400 years later we are in this position today, is quite frankly appalling and disappointing to me. We owe it to all the lives who have been lost, and to those who continue to suffer today, to make a serious change.
It isn’t just up to the Black community to plea for change and fend for themselves. It is up to everyone.
My challenge to you
No one denies that all of us, no matter the color of our skin, has dealt with some sort of hardship. However, unless you are Black, you will never truly understand what it is like to be Black in America. But that doesn’t mean that just because we haven’t experienced their hardships directly, we can’t help a community we aren’t apart of. We can continue to empathize with their experience and demand better for them. So instead of comparing ourselves or saying “all lives matter”, we need to take a step back and look at the reality of the situation. And that reality is that the Black community has been suffering for centuries.
If you are privileged (like myself) to not have to worry about what may happen to you based on the color of your skin, or if you can walk down the street freely and pass an officer without fearing for your life, then I’d like to leave you with some food for thought.
I challenge you to listen and pay attention to what is going on. A lot of us have been completely uneducated on this issue, and that’s ok to admit. What matters is that we accept our blindness and learn from it in order to further educate ourselves and step up for those who need us.
I challenge you to have conversations with not only those who agree with your point of views, but those of opposing opinions. Sometimes that means having a conversation at the dinner table. It can be uncomfortable, yes, but only talking about these issues with people who agree with you isn’t bringing awareness to those who actually need it.
I challenge you to call your representatives, sign (and share) petitions, and—if you can—donate to different causes that support the movement. I also challenge you to look into the companies and brands you buy from. What do they support? Have they pledged to be more inclusive, donate, and do better amidst current events, or have they stayed silent? Have they had a history of being racist or non-inclusive?
I challenge you to vote in the upcoming elections. Each and every one of our voices counts. When we elect officials who want to advance our current society for the better, that’s when we can start to see major institutional shifts being implemented.
I’ve always believed that change starts within us. By speaking up, becoming aware, and being active in the Black Lives Matter movement, we can carry the momentum along further. This is just the beginning, so buckle up.
It is up to us to make a change. Be on the right side of history.
Balbina De La Garza