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Educate Yourself and Make Your Voice Heard

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Written by Kaelyn Spickler

This year has been like an ongoing wrestling match, and we keep getting knocked out before we can get back up from the previous punch; however, the most recent punch has left our nation divided, scared, angry, upset, etc.

Two weeks ago, another innocent African American life was taken. George Floyd, a father and young grandparent, was murdered by Officer Derek Chauvian following his arrest as a suspect for a non-violent crime. His name joins the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery who was shot while on a run in Georgia and Breonna Taylor who was shot in her own apartment while officers were executing a drug warrant, though the man they were searching for had already been detained. The list is only beginning here.  

The list of names should not be increasing yet 400 years later, and it is appalling that racism is still a problem in our country- a country which guarantees “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all of its sons and daughters.” The recent murder of Floyd is an example of how the basic, fundamental freedoms that our country was founded on have not been guaranteed to African Americans, and it’s far past time the changes in our nation are made to ensure the list stops growing.

Change starts with a shift in our thinking. We should not think, say, or feel that color or race doesn’t matter. Instead, we need to honor and respect our differences, ask questions to better understand what they’ve been through, and fight these injustices, no matter how big or small. This comes with educating ourselves on the history of racism, the current struggles, and how we can make our voices heard.

Our voices are important, and together, one voice can become 10 which can become 100 which can then become a whole community, state, and nation that fights to resolve the continued and evident racial inequalities in our country. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,” Desmond Tutu said.

Even more importantly, we need to practice what we preach and hold each other accountable. Posting on social media is a great contribution as it helps educate others and show your support; however, it is not a trend, and it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t living by what you are posting. Furthermore, if you don’t hold your friends, family, or even yourself accountable for their actions, your words similarly become meaningless. You may be nervous to call your grandma out at the dinner table or over the phone, but the necessary changes in our country won’t be made until we have people’s support, and that starts with you and your home.

In the last two weeks, our country has made steps towards justice thanks to the many protests, petitions, and donations. Since Floyd’s death, the four officers involved with his murder have been fired, with Officer Chauvin being charged with second-degree murder. A Civil Rights investigation on the Minneapolis Police Department has been in place as well as their public school systems ending the contract with the MPD. The US Marine Corp ordered a confederate flag ban, and the US Army has told soldiers to disobey any orders to attack peaceful protestors. These are examples of what coming together can accomplish in two weeks. 

Imagine what our voices can continue to do as we continue educating ourselves, holding each other accountable, and making our voices heard.