BY CATHY KENDERSKI
Disclaimer: The author of this post is a non-Black individual who shares her reflections following her attendance of a Black Lives Matter protest and listening to speakers and activists there.
What does it mean to be an effective ally? Following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black men and women, outrage has erupted nationwide. In a touching demonstration of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, Lafayette, CA banded together in early June to call for sweeping reform of our police force. Characterized by poignant speeches, chants, and most importantly, listening to and amplifying Black voices, the demonstration illustrated the need for non-Black allies that are actively anti-racist in their day to day lives.
The themes present across speeches were clear: being an accomplice is important, police reform is necessary to prevent further unjust killings, and finally, tangible action is necessary to further the movement. Sharing a black square tagged #blackouttuesday is not enough. Raising awareness is no longer an adequate response to the injustices faced by people of color at the hands of our legal and justice system. Listening, comprehending, and taking meaningful action is not only necessary, rather, it is now vital. Using privilege to protect the underprivileged is necessary.
Perhaps the most important speech given that day was one given by the mother of Miles Hall, a Walnut Creek citizen that was a victim of police brutality last year. Her speech was a wake up call for many. While many believe that we are far removed from the systemic violence that people of color face, her speech was a reminder that racism rears its ugly head in every city across America. The speech was followed by an open mic session that allowed for protesters to speak and concluded with a march.
To conclude, we all must do our part to bring justice to the individuals that have lost their lives to police brutality, while also taking the necessary steps to preventing future violence. Our last post details various books and movies that individuals can read to become more informed. In addition to that, signing petitions, protesting, donating, and above all, continuing to be vocal about the injustices that face the Black community are necessary.