Friday, 14 May 2021

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Auntie Najwa Marches

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Hello Dearies ... 

The recent weeks have been surreal. With the Coronavirus lockdown life had already changed quite a bit. It was scary to watch heavily armed protesters on TV demanding their freedom to spread the virus while public health officials urged (and still urge) caution. And then to see the President contradict the messages of public health officials by encouraging protesters to violate the restrictions that were imposed for public health. 

Then came the murder of George Floyd by police. Just preceded by the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by pseudo-police while jogging and the killing of Breonna Taylor by police; a woman simply sleeping in her bed. The police had the wrong address. Her boyfriend was arrested for defending their home. 

And while all of this is going on, a distraught young woman from our very own community was shot by police. Not in a violation of her rights but in self-defense. On a video, you can see her attacking the unsuspecting officer with a knife, and when he fell while running away, another officer shot her to protect his colleague. A split second, and a life is lost, another family devastated. An officer now having to deal with having killed a young woman who needed mental health counseling. 

It’s like the world has gone crazy. Our black brothers and sisters are telling us that these incidents are nothing unusual … they are just getting filmed. Have we been so blind? Apparently so – but not anymore!! And even in the protests we are now seeing peaceful protesters injured. A young asthmatic woman in Ohio died from inhaling the tear gas. An old man was shoved to the ground and his skull cracked open. Beatings with batons, spitting on arrested people sitting on the ground. 

And yes, there was some looting of stores – and there are those who really want us to focus on sneakers that were taken by some opportunists instead of the government-sponsored brutality that is happening right before our eyes. Tear gas in Tampa. And the response from the White House was “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and threats to protesters that they would be met with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” (what is that?) Governors need to “dominate” so that they “don’t “look like a bunch of jerks.” Really? That’s what’s important? Not one mention of peace or unity. Just the cracking of the whip and more dog whistles – statements that racists understand – but that can be denied later. The travesty of the President clearing his way through protesters with tear gas for a photo opportunity while holding a holy book.

And you know it … I put on my pink granny sneakers and I marched. Black Lives Matter. And I pledge to not let my outrage die in next news cycle. My eyes are wide open now. And I also know that I don’t know much about the experience of our black brothers and sisters, and I want to learn more. And I am afraid and don’t know how to start. Going to protests makes me feel better, but will it be enough to change things? I don’t know what to say, but I will speak from my heart and hope for forgiveness if I say the wrong thing. And I will support those who speak out. I know what it’s like to be afraid – and I don’t want that for anyone. I came to this country because of “Liberty and Justice for All” – and I will settle for nothing less. 

And while I’m at it: Are you registered to vote? Do you know your sheriff is elected? Do you know your State Attorney is elected? The one who decides whether to bring charges? And School Board members – and some judges. We, the citizens of this country, are responsible for the decision makers we elect. For example, those who think business owners should be able to fire employees who choose to wear face masks at work to protect their families at home. Yes, that happened too. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to educate yourself about the candidates, this is a good time.  

Until next time,

Auntie Najwa

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