Let This One Matter… We are in a State of Emergency!

by Rénee Smith-Maddox
June 3, 2020

Racism does not take a break during a pandemic. Say his name, George Floyd. He’s another unarmed Black man killed by a police officer. The unprovoked killing of George Floyd in MN reminds us once again of the unspeakable actions of police officers who have killed unarmed Black men and women in the United States. From Trayvon Martin in Florida to Tamir Rice in Ohio to Eric Garner in New York to Walter Scott in South Carolina to Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma to Botham Jean in Texas to Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia to Michael Brown in Missouri to Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Eleanor Bumpurs in New York, Tyisha Miller in California, LaTanya Haggerty in Chicago, Margaret Mitchell in Los Angeles, Kayla Moore in Berleley, CA, Reika Boyd in Chicago, Tarika Wilson in Ohio and so many more have been killed by the police. We have watched far too many being brutally gunned down on primetime new coverage. ENOUGH is ENOUGH. This is why we protest.

We’ve witnessed days of protests intensified over George Floyd’s death across the country. These protests are born out of anger, pain, and frustration. They represent the cumulative effects of structural and systemic inequities in the United States. We’ve seen excessive force against demonstrators protesting against the use of excessive force and the reporters working to make sense of it all.

When I spoke to some of my Black male friends many said “they weren’t ready to talk; it’s too early.”

Another one indicated that “I don’t know how to keep it together” because he just had an encounter with the police and could have been killed. He said “Floyd’s death just makes me weak. There’s no end in sight to this level of injustice.”

My 94 year old mother revealed her anguish and despair. She knows the history of violence and unrest in this country. She has lived through several civil rights movements. As she spoke through her tears, she revealed that she prays daily for the safety of my husband, daughter, brother, and me. For her, racism exists and continues to be active in this country.

We are experiencing racial trauma. We are grieving America.

In the words of Fannie Lou Hammer, “we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.” However, in the midst of despair, there’s a glimpse of hope when we see people coming together for peaceful demonstrations. Another valuable lesson. Black Lives Matter. Treat us with dignity and respect.

But what is next? What do we tell our children about the violence and the hatred they are seeing against Black people?

It’s time for healing, rebuilding, and restoring justice. You must commit to understanding past and present reality of Black people. We must learn how to work together with compassion and empathy.

We must use our collective voice to speak out against the structural and systemic inequalities that persist in this county. We must stand up for our rights. We must galvanize our communities its residents to engage in the electoral process and VOTE. We must hold police officers accountable for unlawful actions. We must continue to engage in civil rights and social justice initiatives. We must have an honest reckoning with racial injustice. We must do better.

To start the healing process, we have to confront ourselves, each other, and this country on the issue of oppression, racism, the trauma of racial discrimination, and the danger of hate. As James Baldwin reminds us in The Fire Next Time." On this confrontation," he writes, "depends on the measure of our wisdom and compassion. This energy is all that one finds in the rubble of vanished civilizations, and the only hope for ours."

In solidarity, let us not forget…the struggle continues.