Monday, July 11, 2016

#blacklivesmatter - An Editorial Piece by Sadie Q.

It has been a week since I sat down to write something for this website and I don't think I can go back to covering all the positive things about Detroit until I address something that is on all of our minds. Last week our country suffered another string of losses that were hard to stomach. First, on July 5th we all watch a blurry video of the shooting of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge. The next day, on July 6th, we watched the live stream of the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile. Both men were young, black, and in many peoples' opinions, they were killed because of their race. Finally, on July 7th, five police officers were shot and killed in Dallas, Texas by a man in which reports claim was seeking retaliation for the recent shootings. It was a week filled with violence that brought the topic of race to the forefront of all of our minds. The violence has to stop!

I spent the entire week sad, angry, and lost. To help myself cope, I started talking about race, privilege, and policing with anyone that would entertain me. For the first time in my life I found myself having very meaningful conversations about race with lots of different people. I decided that I wanted to sit down and write something that would help continue the conversation, so I began to write about my experience with race. Five sentences into writing, I stopped myself and said, "why the fuck would anyone want to read about what my experience with race has been?" At the end of the day, I am a privileged white girl, my race has only helped me. Because of the color of my skin I have been given the benefit of  the doubt from all sorts of people throughout my life, including police officers, when I most certainty didn't deserve it. Instead of worrying about my experience of race, I searched my mind, my Facebook feed, and the internet for ways to make a change. I want to help create a world where the color of one's skin doesn't put someone at risk for being shot when they are pulled over for a traffic infraction. But, before I could dive into how to make a change, I had to deal with a couple of important questions. 

First of all, I had to ask myself a very important question. Why now? This isn't the first time that I have watched what I consider to be an unfair and unjust killing of a fellow American by the police. Why did this one effect me so much? Is it because I am still dealing with my grief over the 49 lives lost in Orlando? Why didn't I have the same reaction to the other videos that I have watched over the last few years? It may be the overly violent way that Alton Sterling was killed, the blood that I watched pour out of Philando as he slumped over in a car with a child watching, or the way that Diamond Reynolds was treated after the fact. Whatever it was, it made me realize that sharing posts and talking to like minded individuals about this topic wasn't going to be enough anymore. Why did it take me so long to get here?  It's time to come together as a community and make a real change. It's time to have the conversations that we are scared to have. It's time to get down, get dirty, and talk about race. 

A lot of people, including myself, have asked "what can we do to help"? I have come to the conclusion that the first thing that we can do to make a change is to keep talking. We cannot let these men become hashtags, we have to keep talking. We need to get together and have the tough conversations. Not just this week, not just next week, but until we make a change. We need to talk to the people who agree with us and we really need to talk to people that don't agree with us. We need to brainstorm new ways to get our point across and make people understand that until #blacklivesmatter, all lives don't matter, plain and simple. The best way that we can be an ally is to change the hearts and the minds of the people around us. It's time to have that uncomfortable conversation with that family member you know disagrees with you, I had a few this week and I was surprised at how well they went.  

Detroit started the conversation by having a beautiful, peaceful #blacklivesmatter protest last Friday, but we have to keep this going. We have to make #blacklivesmatter a part of our life on a daily basis until #blacklivesmatter to everyone of us. 

Over the next few weeks I plan to keep the conversation going. I want to research candidates that want to make a change and how we can make our money talk for us. But, for now, if you're wondering what you can do to help or make a change, keep talking until everyone understands that #blacklivesmatter. Reach out to others, attend group discussions (like this one in Ferdale tonight) and together we can be the change we want in this world.  


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