What Change Feels Like

I protested today. I went to a protest that was held in my neighborhood. Elizabeth and I both went, strapped with water, trail mix, face masks, hand sanitizer, and our burning desire for change.

On our walk to the meeting place, we were passed by our old Vice Principal from high school. I was wondering which side of history he was going to choose, as I saw him heading the same direction that we were going to.

When we arrived at the venue, I was shocked to see who it was run by. A group of freshman and sophomores from the old high school I went to. It hurt my heart a bit to see young teens not enjoy their lives, but fight just to claim them. But that’s the thing about racism: you fight as soon as you are born, and can never be relieved of it.

These teens corralled our group of about 70 people and gave us our game plan of marching. We started to walk, noticing the Vice Principal was joining us. It made me smile, as that he may or may not remember me, but to know that an administrator that was white was an ally.

We begin our chants as we round the first corner,

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

As we begin to march, people in the neighborhood see our signs and our fists in the air. They understand the problem. They know that they may not be able to physically be with us, but they honk. They honk their car horns as much as possible. They make noise for the voices that had their words stripped from them.

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

We are halfway to our destination. The heat is beating on our heads. We sweat, as we know how long the day is going to be. I contact a friend of mine, and coordinate a location for us to meet up at. She delivers us waters for the protesters. We giver her our thanks and continue marching. Solidarity in friends, solidarity in numbers.

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

We get to the corner of an intersection. We chant louder. Sweat pouring into our eyes. Throats getting scratchy. Arms starting to fatigue. But we continue, as we know that our current protesting physical condition comes no where near that of the ones who dealt with injustice.

The near summer heat draws closer, and as the temperature increases, so do our spirits. We continue to march, but start to change our chants slightly.

“No racist police! No racist police!”
“Black Lives Matter!”
“VOTE HIM [Trump] OUT”

We see protesters turn home. We thank them for their unity. We understand that some people cannot spend their entire day outside, but their bodies and their voices were definitely heard.

At this point, we have crossed a few streets, with cars trying to scurry to their destinations. Some cars are patient, others aren’t. This man, who I am assuming is non-black, is standing in front of a line of cars, using his body to shield the protest. I see the anger in the frustrated cars eyes, but if we have to wait 400+ years for change, they can wait the 3 minutes. We count all acts of ally-ship as furthering the cause.

“No racist police! No racist police!”
“Black Lives Matter!”
“VOTE HIM [Trump] OUT”

We arrive to our destination: a nearby Costco warehouse. The city I live in is diverse, but there is a strong majority of white civilians. We stand in front of the entrance, all 50 of us, with our signs, our shirts preaching our words, and our hearts. We begin to chant.

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

“No racist police! No racist police!”
“Black Lives Matter!”
“VOTE HIM [Trump] OUT”

The leaders start to read off the names of the black people who fell to the demise of racists cops perpetuating the system. We see security cars arrive on the scene. We chant in response…

“PEACEFUL PROTEST!”
“DON’T SHOOT!”

We give George Floyd a moment of silence. We honor his life and what agony we all feel in our hearts. We then take a knee, as Colin Kaepernick did to protest the NFL.

Then, as if the air around us became silent, I hear a leader scream the single word…

“Momma!”

“DON’T SHOOT!”

It makes me think about all the last words my fellow people spoke. It makes me think about my possible last words that my usher from my mouth, if a police officer thinks my time on this earth has been exceeded.

“Momma!”

“DON’T SHOOT!”

I think about my brother’s last words, a possible cry to me that I would never hear unless it’s being video taped.

“Momma!”

“DON’T SHOOT!”

I see Elizabeth shake a bit. I know that one hit her, as it hit all of us. I start to chant “Momma” as well, but I just can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t imagine calling out to a family member or friend for help and them not hearing. I can’t stop seeing people say that in a flash back, as if all black memories of injustice flood my mind.

We leave, sending our message, and going to the corner of one of the busiest streets in my hometown. We split up on four corners, all chanting our chants, fists raised high, signs held with pride.

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

“No racist police! No racist police!”
“Black Lives Matter!”
“VOTE HIM [Trump] OUT”

“PEACEFUL PROTEST!”

“Momma!”

“DON’T SHOOT!”

At this point in time, I’m constantly dancing around the line of unconsciousness due to lack of oxygen, overheating, and dehydration. But if I am going to fight on the side of justice and equality, this can’t be the reason that deters me.

I have my fist raised as high as my body would allow me, and my “Black Lives Matter” shirt saying the same message as my mouths formed. I had cars wave at us, I had cars that raised their fists with us, I had cars that ignored us. Whatever the outcome, they noticed us. They are seeing the change around us.

We then decide to meet in the middle of the intersection, arms locked together in solidarity, despite being in an pandemic, COVID-19. We stand in the center of one of the busiest streets, in a circle, resisting traffic with our bodies and our words. I can’t lie, I was very scared of getting hit, or having the cops come after us. Seeing cars intentionally barely swerve out of the way is an experience that cannot be communicated well through words. But we were there.

After about 5 minutes, Elizabeth and I had to leave the circle. We ran out of the street to the sidewalk. I begin walking away from the protest, looking for any drivers trying to contact the police. I see a person and try to notify the protesting group.

The police then show up. I pull out my phone out of instinct and start recording. If they harass or hurt my community, I’ll make sure the world sees their racism and abolish it. They block the traffic in the intersection and allow the protesting group to come back to the sidewalk safely.

Luckily, there was no use of tear gas or hurting them. But know that we are lucky this happened to us, as this is a common occurrence to the people who voice their frustrations across the world. We rejoin and continue our chants.

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!”
“Say his name: George Floyd!”
“Say her name: Breonna Taylor”

“No racist police! No racist police!”
“Black Lives Matter!”
“VOTE HIM [Trump] OUT”

“PEACEFUL PROTEST!”

“Momma!”

“DON’T SHOOT!”

And that brings us to the biggest test of our morale. A white driver lowers his window and says “All Lives Matter.” I and a few people barely hears what he said, so we ask him to repeat it. And he dares to say “All Lives Matter.” A teacher in the group tries to educate him, but he clearly doesn’t listen. We quickly jump to the absolute edge of the street and scream “BLACK LIVES MATTER” as fast and loud as possible. He turns his head around and tries to drive away, but we follow him with our eyes and our words. He’ll never forget this moment that his racism and white privilege was called out.

Shortly after this, Elizabeth became exhausted and fatigued, so we went back home.

Change can happen. Sign petitions on change.org. Donate to causes that will help end systemic racism. Voice your concerns to your government. And protest, if you can. But most importantly, VOTE!

Our lives are NOT a POLITICAL ISSUE! Any race of person that is considered a “political issue” is masked in oppression, white privilege, and injustice to not recognizing the plights of the people who suffer from it! At the end of the day, a cop can take off their badge, but we cannot take off our skin and the racial problems that come with it!

My mom has cancer, my dad has high blood pressure, and I have asthma. But if people suffer worse cases of racial profiling and death on a daily basis, I can go outside and hold a stick and fight for their lives that are being oppressed and disenfranchised.

The best way to help is to learn, listen, and understand. Know that this had been going on for 400+ years. We cannot wait any longer. I do not wish for my possible children in the future to suffer like I have, or to repeat racism onto others. We have waited to long. Justice needs to happen today. Defund police and reinvest the money into the community. Help the problems from the inside out, not the outside in.

Use your privilege to help the cause. Choose which side of history you will be on!


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