I was taught to turn to God when tragedy hits. Prayer is the beginning of healing. But with the recent news surrounding Michael Brown and the killings of Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and Tanisha Anderson this month, I often wonder where God is in all this disorder?
Police brutality is happening more often than most people hear about it. In my job as a writer for a Black media website, I stay up on this news daily. Unfortunately from my own personal observations, it is the same people who speak up in some form or another when these incidents occur. There are others who remain sleep and when they do choose to respond, it is clear they have not been reading and educating themselves on what’s happening around them.
Then there are those who post scriptures and say things like, “God has the final say.” I believe that, but I also do not believe that we were meant to simply pray and sit back hoping that it’s going to be all good. If God is within you and God would frown upon what’s happening around you then how is it godly to be inactive and silent when injustices occur? Whether it be poverty, harassment, police brutality, or any other ill, for some it’s business as usual until these issues show up to their front door step.
Right now, there are protests happening in Ferguson and around the country. The people in the Missouri suburb have been raising their voices daily for more than 100 days. And there are many media companies who are painting the situation as that of rioting and violence. Yet there are young and older people, Black and white and all colors, who are out there peacefully using their right to freedom of speech and assembly to tell the world that they are tired of this system.
Others have organized the #BlackoutBlackFriday to encourage Blacks to begin spending their money within their own communities again. I was always taught that your dollar is like voting. Where you spend it, tells corporations who you are and what you like. This information is tracked and studied by marketers. In the broader scope of things, do the companies we remain loyal to do enough to give back to our communities and care about the issues that affect us? You can look around and answer that question yourself.
We are in the middle of a new civil rights movement and I hate to say this, but it may take more people dying, protests, and dare I say riots, as cries for help until something is done to change the system.
The Montgomery Bus Boycott, a planned movement that began when Rosa Parks refused to give up her white-only seat on a bus, lasted 13 months. Putting that in perspective, this is only the beginning.
The first protest I ever attended was in 2012 for Trayvon Martin at Union Square Park in New York. We marched to Times Square and back to Union Square just to call for the Sanford police to arrest George Zimmerman. The parents and family attorney spoke and I could feel a shift in the air. I saw hundreds of young people gather that evening. Cars honked their horns and people watching from buildings above clapped their hands in solidarity. I saw people casually walking by choose to join in. When Zimmerman was arrested, I realized the power of that protest and felt accomplished.
Earlier this year, I attended a moment of silence rally for Michael Brown. But I was less angry and simply depressed. “Here we go again,” I thought.
The biggest question I ponder now is, “Now what?” And what are the appropriate actions needed to make change happen? I’m tired of us dying for no reason!
In my own line of work, I feel like I’m making a difference by telling stories that would often get overlooked in mainstream media. Our people need to see the positive because the narrative is often against them. I also volunteer once a week with middle school youth in the neighborhood I grew up in.
I do my best to support and help my peers get access to opportunities, jobs and gigs when I have the power to do so. I offer my words and prayers of encouragement when someone comes to me feeling less than their truest self. I look to be a woman of my word and educate myself often on the issues happening globally. I also created this platform as a positive space for young adults of color to share their thoughts without judgment because I felt that space did not exist. I will carry on with this work and do whatever is necessary to see that we leave behind a better place for our children then what exists today.
At the end of it all, I’m here for the long haul, no matter how uncomfortable this gets.
(Photo Credit: Chris Ball, Flickr. This photo was modified for use of this website.)