Over the past few weeks, a lot has gone down. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin sparked protests after he was captured on video brutally killing an unarmed black man named George Floyd. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, despite Floyd pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Even when Mr. Floyd fell unconscious it took several minutes for Chauvin to get off of his neck; by then it was too late.
This is not the first incident in which racism and police brutality have led to the death of innocent people. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Oscar Grant. Eric Garner. And many, many more. It is past time for change.
I am frustrated because of the injustice that black people face at the hands of police officers. It angers me that someone can get away with murder simply because they are in a position of power and the person they killed was the considered the “wrong color” by some in America. It angers me that our justice system allows this to happen, despite our nation’s most fundamental founding principle being that all men are created equal. They may have been created equal but they are surely not treated equally, or fairly.
There is a phrase that has recently become popular, “I understand that I will never understand. However, I stand with you.” This is meant as a show of support from white people to people of color, acknowledging that they will never understand the struggle POC go through because of racism, but they will still fight with them to end it.
As individuals, I feel that it is important for each of us to recognize that white people have unfair privileges. The privilege to go for a jog, to the store, or just the privilege to go about our daily lives without fear of being murdered because of our skin color. Anyone who denies this privilege is lying to themselves. However, we can, and should use this privilege for good, by amplifying the voices of people of color, not by drowning them out.
However, as a young person, I often struggle with how I can positively add to the fight. I’m not allowed to help in the ways I want because of my parents’ rules, and I struggle to see how reposting the same Instagram posts on my story as the 500 other people I follow will help anyone.
I am limited in how many protests I can go to because, despite the great importance of the cause, we are still amidst a global pandemic. While I regularly speak with my parents about my desire to keep protesting, it is admittedly difficult to social distance in a crowd of hundreds.
So, I have also spent this time thinking about other ways young people like myself can help the Black Lives Matter movement. For example, get yourself informed. Documentaries such as “13th,” “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” “When They See Us,” and “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” are all films that will widen your perspective and better prepare you for conversations about race in America. I am thinking about starting the Eyes on the Prize document series next.
We can also donate to organizations like Black Lives Matter or the George Floyd Memorial Fund, or reach out to your representatives or senators. Read about Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s resolution condemning police brutality and share it with others. This issue will not go away overnight. It will take years of effort, but if we all work together and use our voices, then this time something will be done.