Growing up in Southern California, I did not see or experience the obvious cancers of racism. However, I knew that things were “different” for us as black people. I can remember living in a neighborhood where my immediate neighbors were furious that they had black neighbors. They always ignored my family and even put up a high fence so that they would not have to look at us at all. That could have damaged my self-esteem. Being raised in a black-minority state could have damaged my self-esteem. But I had a strong mother who was determined to teach me my history, my worth, my value. She was determined to teach my peers about black history through school projects, as she would often say, “if we don’t tell them, then who will?”
The Emmett Till Anti-Racism Pledge was created to raise awareness of the toxicity of racism in California and to END IT. Emmett Till was murdered 65 years ago this year. He was a 14-year-old child murdered by grown men. He didn’t even have a chance. However, the most astounding fact is that these brutal murders are STILL occurring today. Black men and women continue to have their lives taken in this country.
And sadly, while we are still mourning the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (just this year), it was announced today that Breonna Taylor’s killers will face no murder charges.
We are tired. We are disappointed. We are heartbroken. We are outraged. Black people are murdered while driving, walking, jogging, and sleeping in their own beds. This is history repeating itself. When will our lives matter? When will our lives be valued? When will people be held accountable for murdering black people?
Well ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I am fighting against racism as my ancestors did for me in Selma, AL. I am fighting against racism as my great-grandmother did for me as she was picketing in front of Sears. When asked why she was picketing, she responded, “I am doing this for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” I am fighting so another child will not have a shotgun put in his face (due to “mistaken identity”) while he was at his church group meeting, as my little brother did.
It’s my turn to take a stand against the ugliness of racism in this state and in this country. I want young black children to know that we are fighting for them. I do not want them to have to worry about being harmed while playing in the park, jogging down the street, or walking to their neighborhood store to get some candy. I want them to have a fair chance at life so that they can dream big, and achieve those dreams. I want to live in a society where people of color can go through their daily lives and not have to worry about violence and racism against them, strictly because of the color of their skin.
We will NOT give up. We will NOT stop fighting for the right to live. We will keep fighting, and fighting, and fighting. Now is the time to take action! This is why I helped to create, and why I took the Emmett Till Anti-Racism Pledge. I want to be part of the solution to END RACISM.
Please stand with me!