STILL FIGHTING RACISM IN AMERICA!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that history often repeats itself. Every time I turn on the television or check my social media I see a hashtag of someone murdered by police. It affects me in a way that I worry about not only myself but my family and friends. I worry about them being racially profiled and murdered. I hope I never have to feel the pain of the families that lost their loved ones such as Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile and much more.
The recent shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling have sparked protests from the Black Lives Matter Movement across the nation. News stations are continuously broadcasting live from the protests and recording them for many to see what’s happening in this country. People are documenting the shootings to demonstrate the ugliness of racism in America. I feel like it’s the 60s all over again. Just like black people were marching for justice and equality then my generation is now doing the same. Wanting justice for our brothers and sisters wrongfully killed by police who constantly get a pass for killing a black person. The shootings have caused retaliation towards police. Innocent police officers are getting murdered because the justice system refuses to punish the cops who are murderers. The people, my people, are fed up. With that said, I decided to act on how I feel and not just write about it.
I attended two protests so my voice can be heard. The first protest was on July 8, 2016, at Centennial Olympic Park Civil Rights Center from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Hundreds and thousands of people came to march for justice. News stations can be seen throughout the crowd trying to interview various protestors. I had arrived with my friend Aaliyah just moments before everyone started marching. When we began walking, helicopters were above us as we passed CNN, Phillips Arena, and other landmarks around downtown. I even recall us stopping in an area where everyone could sit and listen to speeches. It was sweltering on this particular Friday. However, I didn’t focus too much on the heat but the unity among the black community. I was ecstatic to see other people of different racial backgrounds there to support the cause as well. Signs, water, megaphones, and the tying of blue and red flags from Bloods and Crips can be seen among the crowd of people. I was in awe to see mothers, fathers, babies, even old classmates all together in one place for the same reason.
While trying to go on the interstate, we were stopped by police and were forced to turn around. I began to chant “No justice, no peace” and the people around me started to do the same. Despite having to turn around, love and unity were through the air that day among those marching. Civilians in their cars honked their horns to let us know that they were down with what we were doing. People can be seen putting up black power fists out the windows of their cars. After marching for about two hours, I decided to do a little bit of journalism work myself and ask protestors how they felt about the protests and all that has been going on with the recent murders.
Check out their responses below.
“Hey, my name is Layla Martinez. This protest has been like amazing. The best experience of my life. We’re out here marching peacefully. There are so many diverse cultures out here, and it’s an awesome experience.”
“I’m in support of the protest being peaceful. I like that everybody is coming together, and I was actually getting goosebumps when I was driving because I almost didn’t come today but I came down, and I saw there were people in the road chanting together and it just seemed like incredible unity. So I went and found a parking space and joined but now the protestors are going on the highway it’s like 50 police cars, and I’m not trying to tempt fate so…”
When asked about the shootings this is what Phillip had to say.
“You know I’m from Jamaica, and it’s like I was telling somebody today the shootings frighten me. In Jamaica, you’re rich, and uptown or you’re poor and downtown. The poor and downtown are where the people have the backlash of the police like African-American people are having in the U.S. It is interesting for me to have gone from growing up in uptown and knowing about police brutality to some degree but not completely grasping it. Being here now and realizing that I have to watch everything that I do. I have to make sure every light on my car is working. I have to go to great lengths to ensure I don’t give police any reason to stop me. It’s good that I now know the plight of all these people because I didn’t know what was going on before but it’s bad because it shouldn’t be happening. The shootings are reprehensible. I cannot believe that they have been happening as long as they’ve been happening, and it could be me. It’s a daily thing that you have to fear as a black person in America. It’s just upsetting and unnerving. My family checks in with me like three times a day now instead of once every couple days to a week because they don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s not a good way to live, and it’s not a good way to be. They need to do something about it.”
“I feel like the shootings are very sad. I’m glad this is happening in Atlanta because we really need to do something about it, and we need to come together. It doesn’t make it right that we are turning it on the cops and shooting innocent cops, so the root of it is violence and hate. We have to stop that otherwise were going to keep having things like this happen.”
ATLANTA IS READY!
The second protest was at Lenox train station from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. However, I was out there with others protesting till 11 p.m. It was very gloomy outside that day. Before marching, protestors gathered in a group to listen to a motivation speech. One of the organizers spoke into a megaphone and said “Let’s make some action! Let’s make some solutions! Mayor Kasim Reed, Chief George Turner, and Governor Nathan Deal we want to talk. Now! We are not playing. It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win! We must love each other and protect each other. Because we have nothing to lose without change. Marchers are you ready?” The crowd replied yes after repeating everything the organizer said in his motivation speech.
While marching, we faced the police. With our hands up we chanted “Hands up don’t shoot!” At one point all the protestors stopped in the middle of the street and sat in a circle. Hugging each other spreading positivity. After that, we continued marching then out of nowhere I see police officers running behind us, so protestors including myself started to run. The police told us that we had to get on the sidewalk. When one man refused to get on the sidewalk, he was thrown down on the concrete by five cops and put in handcuffs. He was then put in a police car. It was the most intense moment of my life. Stopping for a moment, I felt myself getting angry with the officers and began to yell at them. Telling them that they don’t understand our hurt and that the only dangerous people that were at the protest were them. Close to tears, I did my best to catch up with the protestors ahead of me.
After walking on the sidewalk for hours which was tough by the way with it being hundreds of people, it began to get completely dark outside. We came to a stop in front of a row of houses. We sat on the sidewalk facing the houses. The police stood across from us. We sat on the sidewalk and chanted more. People began to get hungry and thirsty. After thirty minutes, I walked back to my car which was parked at Lenox. It was getting extremely late, and my mother was getting worried.
When I got home, I checked my social media and found out people tried to bring food and water to the remaining protestors on the sidewalk. However, the police refused to let them bring the protestors the food and water. I didn’t understand why they would do such a thing.
Then I began to wonder am I along with other protestors fighting an endless war we cannot simply win? It seems as though we are always asking for justice and never receiving it. Deep down inside I know that I have to continue doing what I believe which is the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Hope and action will go a long way in the end! Hopefully!