These protests have such an intense energy to them. There is an electric vibe in the air that you could almost feel pulsing through the streets like an old Motown bassline. As these subtle undertones of social injustice thumped under the rumble of the crowd a lone voice cut through the masses enhanced with a megaphone. One of the organizers, a gorgeous young woman in her mid-twenties, decided we had the time and energy to carry the message and march for one more round. Perching atop an old pickup afforded her with just enough of a position above the rest of us to make it easier to be seen and to speak to the crowd. Once she was certain that she had the peoples full attention she began hyping us up-
“I know you’re tired but we gotta have extra energy today. I know your voices are going out but we’re going to be heard today. The new curfew doesn’t go into effect for another hour and a half so let’s use the time we have.” Pumping her fist in the air she calls out “WHAT’S HIS NAME?”
-Everyone erupts together in unison screaming “GEORGE FLOYD!”
Without skipping a beat our hostess and her entourage hopped down from the dusty old truck and began marching down Akard Street. As we started taking to the street I took a moment to myself and observed my peers. I was mildly surprised at how vibrant the tapestry surrounding me actually was but, I’m not going to lie, it felt right to just blend in a bit and sort of sense that universal love. Black Lives Matter. Then, we began chanting anthems in the orderly fashion of call and response as our feet stomped the pavement.
Various members of the group took turns calling out “WHAT’S HIS NAME?”
The crowd would undoubtedly shout out “GEORGE FLOYD!” This tended to last for 3-4 rounds before we alternated and proclaimed “WHAT’S HER NAME?”
“BREONNA TAYLOR!” “BREONNA TAYLOR!”
As our voices boomed and reverborated off the concrete and marble walls of downtown Dallas I took another moment to observe our surroundings and found quite a few locals smiling down at me from their apartment windows. Some were even holding out signs of their own and participating. Now mind you, these are the same neighbors who had literally just watched quite a few pissed off protestors from wherever America chucking bricks through the windows of their homes and of their store fronts.
Still they’d hear us call out “NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!”
-and without missing a beat they’d join in scream “F*#K THESE RACIST A$$ POLICE!”
I naturally felt compelled to salute them for being so resilient. Like many of us I was under the impression that the people living in the urban jungles downtown were fighting with rioters. I expected the locals to be generally uninviting of the protestors, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered the opposite was true. Not only were they vocally supportive of us but many of them were handing out snack packs and bottles of water as well.
Solidarity is contagious.
There came a point when two squad cars carrying four officers a piece were at a traffic light in one of the intersections we were passing through. As a group we decided to take a knee right in front of these squad cars. I won’t pretend like this wasn’t an intense moment that we all handled with ease. I was freaking out in my mind. While we kneeled down with our fists up some of the officers actually stepped out of their squad cars asking members of the crowd what they can do to help-
Granted, two paddy wagons pulled up behind us with another half dozen cruisers all too aware that a small band of their officers were now completely surrounded by hundreds of protestors but still.
-What transpired next was truly beautiful to see. Those same officers who had gotten out of their squad cars were now taking a knee with the rest of us. In doing so, they reminded quite a few members of the crowd, myself included, that not all the police are racists who can’t wait to use their tools on people of color in the line of duty.
Now I can’t imagine what it’s like to wear a uniform that so many of us instantly attach a negative connotation to. Granted, a lot of our mistrust comes from crooked cops who are ultimately responsible for all of us being brought together in protest to begin with but what about what they go through as people? The wife who’s terrified her husband will be killed in the line of duty by someone who just doesn’t like what he represents. Or, picture working the beat because you lost a lot of your family to gang violence or drug addiction. So you decided to be the change you want to see and went to police academy. Now everyday you read grievances from a people who are next to impossible to reach because they don’t trust what you represent. So many of the ones that truly need your help will hate you for being the one providing said help. If they ever let you get close enough to them in the first place.
Factor in the systematic racism and class issues that have been an integral part of our countries history since day one and it’s easy to see how we ended up in such a mess. There’s the whole socio-economic dilemma lurking in the background of all this that we’re going to have to address if we ever want to see genuine progress. We have to strive to move past the things that divide us as a species. All. Of the things that divide us.
Remember, it is from ignorance and ignorance alone that humanity must be freed. That’s all I got.
Here’s a link to a site that has a good deal of resources thinking along the lines of solutions. I personally believe that’s the most proactive thing we can be doing right now is actively seek answers: