What We Need To Know:
We stand here today, Monday, June 1, 2020, one week after the murder of George Floyd. It is not lost on us that 99 years ago today, the race riots of Tulsa brought an entire Black community and economy to its knees, if not closer to the ground. This past week’s protests of being fed up, of being sick and tired of being sick and tired…we can’t let one more Black man, woman or child be killed by police without any fear of punishment, let us listen to voices old and new of civil rights leaders, speaking with a look at the way things were yesterday and sadly, are today. We may not all agree with the way things have been done in the past. We may not agree with the way things are being done today.
This is especially true as we see people breaking into businesses, looting, setting fires and BEATING business owners for the sport of it. If you’re not down for the cause for the betterment of man and womankind, if you don’t know why we are here and our history, pick up a book. Ask somebody. But don’t say what you’re doing is in memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor or any of the others murdered.
But the one thing we must agree on —the need for change. Let us talk and LISTEN! How many times do people say, “I hear you.” I know we hear each other. But are we listening? We see thousands upon thousands of people marching for change. We read the words on placards. We see the looting and the fires. But are we feeling the real fire of hundreds of years of righteous indignation?
This is Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from his 1967 speech, “Other America.”
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense, our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
Why We Need To Know:
Speaking over two and a half generations later, Civil Rights Activist Tamika Mallory speaks with a passionate voice and energy born of frustration and a reluctance to let this injustice continue:
“We cannot look at this as an isolated incident. The reason buildings are burning are not just for our brother George Floyd,” she said. “They’re burning down because people here in Minnesota are saying to people in New York, to people in California, to people in Memphis, to people across this nation, enough is enough. We are not responsible for the mental illness that has been afflicted upon our people by the American government, institutions, and those people who are in positions of power. I don’t give a damn if they burn down Target, because Target should be on the streets with us, calling for the justice that our people deserve. Where was AutoZone at the time when Philando Castile was shot in a car, which is what they actually represent. So if you are not coming to the people’s defense then do not challenge us when young people and other people who are frustrated and instigated by the people you pay. You are paying instigators to be among our people out there throwing rocks, breaking windows and burning down buildings. And so young people are responding to that. They are enraged. And there’s an easy way to stop it. Arrest the cops. Charge the cops. Charge all the cops. Not just some of them. Not just here in Minneapolis. Charge them in every city across America where our people are being murdered. It has not been free for Black people and we are tired. Don’t talk to us about looting. Ya’ll are the looters! America has looted Black people! America looted the Native Americans when they first came here, so looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you! So if you want us to do better, then damn it, you do better!”