Beyond Marching: Asking For Civil Rights Shouldn’t Lead To Civil Unrest

When the very act of asking for civility turns into anger and unrest, what is an amicable response?

Coming on the heels of the reopening of cities across the US after close to three months of what to some, felt like house arrest, and mounting tension around staying in, America vented her frustration with outpourings of rage from coast to coast.

Sunday.

A day that should have been peaceful began with a birdwatcher in Central Park having his blackness weaponized after asking a woman to put her dog on a leash. Casual and unfortunately common, often subtle intimidation and bias from people who react in surprise (and sometimes violence) when confronted with or expected to experience the same.

George Floyd

The day ended with a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis screaming out for his life (and his mother), before his breathing was stopped by a public servant with a knee on his neck.

What resulted was a fortnight of shock, anger and violence and the whole world watched as the expectation of civility, even during peaceful protests asking for human rights – devolved into looting, vandalism, teargas and distrust on all sides.

Shout out to our passionately allied, non-melanated supporters who took the head bustin’ and repercussions that often seem to come with the civil request of black and brown people to be treated humanely and have equal rights, because quite frankly, we’re tired of it.

Not a good look America When Your Claim to Fame Is Freedom

And like any good political drama, the week definitely had it’s share of bad actors. From counter protesters and militant rebellion groups going into black neighborhoods and looting, setting fires and destructing property in the name of Black Lives Matter, to the behind the scenes play of the DEA obtaining full reign to investigate protesters throughout the country (after the previous week’s obtaining full access to everyone’s web browser history indefinitely). Once again, the peaceful message of the original argument seemed to be drowned out, sparking the hastag #BlackoutTuesday.

Ending with an attempt to turn American soldiers against the very civilians it’s sworn to protect from threat.

Whew!

It’s definitely been a week of personal expression, a lot of true colors in this country have been revealed, and let me tell ya honey, some of it’s not so pretty.

It remains to be seen just how we will move forward together as a nation in both healing from the deep rifts of racism, acknowledging that the disparities can be rectified with willingness to act as if when interacting with others that don’t look, think, believe or act the same as we do, and moving forward collectively in a way that guarantees the individual’s right to actual humane treatment that goes beyond policy and lip service and into daily life.

We know it’s necessary. And required to move forward with the same esteem in the world, as a figurehead of freedom and equality, that our lady of liberty represents.

What has transpired over the past week revealed America has some festering wounds that can only heal if exposed and the infection treated. A physical manifestation of the virus that has terrorized the world all year and which has proved our institutions as they are, are no longer sustainable.

Speaking with an elderly gentleman while standing on the bright orange square marking appropriate social distance in my local convenience store, the discussion turned to the mayhem on the news about the protests.

He began to muse aloud about a humble guy he was in ‘Nam with that was one of the only people he completely trusted to be fully alert and have his back in all situations, A black man with “one of them round hairdos“, a penchant for motivating those around him, and who weighed his heart and his words carefully.

I’ll tell you something, he thought about what was best for everyone as a group and thought a lot about how things actually worked. When he spoke up with that deep, thoughtful voice, I knew he had come up with something that would really make sense if we just implemented it, and I always listened. Smart fella.

Hmm… Maybe we can all be smarter fellas in how we listen and hear when it comes to eradicating racial injustice, and how we treat each other, and the planet we live on.

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