The unfolding events in America are stemmed from a virus. One that grew from years of systemic racism, rooted from the beginning of this country’s existence. A system that was designed to keep those in power, in power. A system that makes it difficult to hold those in power accountable for their actions. A system that spins the narrative for order to kill justice. A system that continues to desensitize the injustice to allow for harmful neutrality. A system that continues to mute the oppressed. A system that mutes the voices of Black Lives.
The murder of George Floyd was a painful capture. We saw a man’s life drained on camera. We saw another Black American lose his life. We saw another white “authoritarian” weaponize his skin color against another. And disgustingly, we saw this poor excuse of a human take the life of Floyd with no remorse. A calm, silence that yelled to the world “I did this because I can.”
I’ve been looking for the words for a week and I don’t think I will ever find the right words. And honestly, my words aren’t the ones you should be seeking. What else do these officials have to say? Why did it take so long for arrests to be made? Back to our home cities; how much money is going into the law enforcement when it could be re-invested in social services? And why is the rhetoric changing now, versus when many “all life matters” individuals took to the streets in the midst of a pandemic to demand their hairstylist open back up?
I’ve been looking for the right words for a week and I don’t think there are any. I put the search away, but did not opt for silence as I went to the front-lines. I put my words away to listen to the pain of Black Lives because these are the voices we need to be listening to. I put my words away to share anything I could. I put my words away about music; this was GUM’s “unadvertised” blackout.
It seems to be a routine. We share our “disbelief.” We take to social media. And when the next unjust event is bestowed on a Black American? On a Black Life? Then what? We need to do more. Don’t forget this tomorrow. Don’t forget this next month.
I couldn’t find my words, but needed to share the words of others who mattered. I wanted to educate. I wanted to share all the amazing Black-Owned stores, shops, and books within the community. I did not want to abuse the hashtags. I did not want to compile a list of amazing Black musicians who paved the way because now, now was “the time.” These lists should’ve been done before. Where would I even start in listing the many Black Women who have touched my life? BUT these posts should’ve been done before. They should’ve been recognized before. We are all guilty of not doing enough. Don’t forget this tomorrow. Don’t forget this next month.
The system is not to be fixed for it was built in favor of its creators. And while I know racism will always exist to some degree, I also know we can create an environment and a society that upholds the very values that we are fighting for on the front-lines, and online, as we sign these petitions or share helpful contacts. An environment where we arm our communities with healthcare and knowledge, especially for those who have been etched out of the unjust system. An environment where the people do not live in fear of those who wear badges. An environment where Black Americans do not live in fear. An environment where all Black Lives Matter.
As I’m finishing writing this, it’s now been over a week. The remaining officers have been charged and we continue to push forward. Push for the many others who are still looking for justice. We still need justice for Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Tony McDade, and Trayvon Martin. We still need justice as we say their names: Pamela Turner, Shantel Davis, Korryn Gaines, Atatiana Jefferson, Nina Pop, and Sandra Bland. We still need justice for the names we don’t know.
I know we don’t have a huge platform, but we will continue to uplift the voices of our Black Community. We should also be recognizing our own privilege as the days go by on this long road. And we should also stop asking the Black Community to educate us. Educate yourselves. We have Google, we have smartphones, and we have the luxury of social media. It is all there. No excuses.
As a Mexican-American that carries an Arab last name proudly, I of course have dealt with injustices. I have seen cops beat the shit out of my dad for expired tags. I have heard the assumptions about my mother in the store. And I have felt the looks crossing into a “wealthier” city. Though, I still have the privilege of being somewhat pale. I know this. I know this privilege.
Understanding where my story is different allows me to listen properly. Where does your story differ?
This is about Black Lives mattering because they are still being killed. This is about Black Lives mattering because they are still in danger. The ignorance to parade “all lives matter” hurts the movement and is selfish. To even attempt to justify that “white privilege” is a racist phase leaves me to believe that there is still work to be done in educating. And to my Latinx, Latinos, Latinas, Latines — we have work to do. We need to be there for the BLM. We need to come together. Admire the movement to light your own movement– not take away from it.
As we say their names, let’s keep the same loving energy moving forward. It starts in your own house with uncomfortable conversations with family. It starts with local officials. It starts with voting in the representation you want to see. It starts with standing up, for, and with our Black Americans and the Black Community around the world. It starts with all Black Lives, women, men, children, LGBTQ+, non-gender conforming — all lives.
The bombard of information posted on our Instagram (where the most eyes are) led to lost followers. I don’t mention this because I care (really saved me the trouble), I mention this because people still don’t get it and I want to make something clear: GUM will not support or entertain the notion of White Supremacy. GUM will not support the ignorance of tarnishing the BLM movement.
Any silence is a calm yell indicating “I won’t do this because I can.” Your silence is a privilege. When you’re constantly being killed or targeted, you don’t have this choice. You’re tired about hearing and reading racism? Imagine those who experience it.
This is not about going back to normal. The system’s definition of normal kills Black Americans. It kills Black Lives. It kills. We need to do better and fight against police brutality.
Don’t forget this tomorrow. Don’t forget this next month.
Cover photo: Janette Ayub at BLM protests
Resourceful links (also linked and pinned on IG):
#BlackLivesMatterDoc: Full list of petitions to those who are still in need of justice, donation platforms, and where to contact officials.
#BirthdayForBreonna: Breonna Taylor’s birthday is June 5. She should be here celebrating. Here is a list of things you can do to assure she gets justice.
COVID-19 Protest Relief Fund: We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Protestors are risking a lot on the frontlines. Chris Redd organized a fundraiser for not only treatment in regards to COVID-19, but also for injuries obtained while protesting, and bail relief and/or court expenses.
Resistance Funds: Google Doc
Headcount: Vote. Vote. Vote. Register and get more information on the when and where.
Education for Liberation Resource Hub: Free access to PDF Books covering race education + more
Los Angeles/State Based:
Minnesota Freedom Fund has a wonderful support and has suggested to redirect that energy to these organizations:
The Bail Project: The Revolving Bail Fund is a critical tool to prevent incarceration and combat racial and economic disparities in the bail system.
Defund12: Opens an email template to all your city’s elected officials (state wide)
OC Bail Fund: Support Orange County Protesters
YJC Protest Tips, Talking Points, Arrestee Support: Google Doc by the Youth Justice Coalition L.A
Campaign Zero: Analyzes police practices to enact change.
ACLU: Working in courts and defending rights.
Act Blue Org: Redistributes funds to various bail and mutual aid funds across the country. Splits specific organizations fighting for racial justice
AFRORACK: Chicago audio arts organization dedicated to providing modular synthesis education for African American youth
Assata’s Daughters: Assata’s Daughters is a grassroots, intergenerational collective of radical Black women located in the city of Chicago who love & support each other
Black Earth Farms: Grassroots Pan African & Pan Indigenous Farming Collective growing food in the East Bay.
ALLIANCE OF CALIFORNIANS FOR COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT (ACCE) ACTION: California grassroots organization with a goal of galvanizing Californians to vote and fight for social change, economic change, and racial justice in the Golden State