Over the last nine days, my family has watched the events around the death of George Floyd happen. Along with this, there have been many discussions.
My son said he had more understanding of the riots that broke out and protest in connection with the Rodney King beating. He asked if I joined the protest and my response was no; I was only 12 years old when that happened. He immediately noted how ironic it was that he and his twin sister, now 20 years old, were 12 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed.
My daughter noted that many of her friends all agree they would have liked to protest or do more to protest this injustice, but they were of course middle school and high school students and their parents would not allow them to.
Almost immediately my daughter joined the group of protestors calling for justice in the murder of George Floyd. The picture you see was snapped by a friend. When she shared it with me it brought me to tears. All the feelings I have had over the last several days poured out.
My twins, along with thousands of young people across the country, have lived through the senseless deaths of not only Trayvon Martin but Freddie Gray, Eric Garnder, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, and Philando Castile, just to name a few. More often than not these deaths were accompanied by painful audio and video. Only to be followed by no arrest or convictions.
Black parents across the country have watched in horror as the body count rises year after year. We have done everything to keep our children safe.
“Don’t wear a hood.”
“Keep your hands in the air if pulled over by police; let the office get your wallet out of your pocket.”
“Don’t go into the store without money and make sure you always get a receipt and a bag.”
“Don’t take anything in the store; they will think you stole it.”
“Don’t play your music loudly.”
“Don’t put your hands in your pocket.”
“Don’t stay out too late.”
“Never leave the house without identification.”
“Don’t wear dark colors.”
The list goes on and on. In an effort to protect our children from the line of fire, we organized protests and hoped they did not make the wrong people upset. We have recent memories of our grandparents, aunts, and uncles being viscously attacked during protests. We understood full well that with one wrong move the same would happen to us or worse our children.
I have watched over the last several days these same young people who we swiftly rushed home from college campuses across the country to again protect them from COVID-19, declare ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I watched with fear as these now young adults walked head-on into being maced, tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, beat with police batons, trampled by horses, and run down by cars. Everything we thought we were protecting them from.
So as I see my daughter wearing a hoodie and mask while holding a sign demanding change, my fear is drowned out by pride and hope. I believe change is coming we have a group of young people who are fighting to save the lives of the next generation.