How have we come so far and yet have so far to go. It seems that it was yesterday when Dr. King echoed these sentences: “It will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again. How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever.”
In our collective history, we recall the time Black people’s expression of their frustration became ignited when Rosa Park’s gave her seat to no one. Rosa Parks sat down, and Black people stood up for an end to segregation. And then the subsequent boycotting of the buses for one year had a tremendous economic impact, which then led to the beginning of equality. Segregation finally ended and opponents had to say YES to integration. Proponents of change may have had feet that were a bit tired, but their souls rested for a moment. However, as we all know, much remained to be done.
Presently, we are ignited again. However, our nation is on fire and division is what we regretfully see. Burning and looting does not convince anyone or create any positive change. But peaceful protest alone also has a downside. Many have been injured. Many have been arrested. Some destructive groups on both sides of the aisle are taking advantage of what is a righteous option. We must not let our human right to protest be hijacked. Let’s opt for a third option that can be combined with peaceful protests for a greater effect on what is a problem that must stop now. How much longer can we wait when we see our brothers and sisters treated so poorly by police brutality? We should never hear the words “I cannot breathe” again.
Pillage, looting, urban unrest, and arson only create excuses for police force to brutalize the African American community even further. It legitimizes them to do violence in the name of security. It divides us further. Let’s learn from Rosa Parks. When the mosquito bites you, it is better to get rid of the swamp rather than one mosquito. What is the third option? Let get us rid ourselves of the conditions that perpetuate this atrocity by boycotting the economic powerhouse which benefits the cities who pay for the police officers’ salary. Only then will true change occur. How? Let us take the example of Los Angeles, with its long history of police brutality. Tourism is a great area of revenue for the city of Los Angeles. Attack the city’s economic pillars of strength through boycotting and you will be surprised by how quickly new policies are written. There is so much power in economic boycott. This is just one example that illustrates this method. There are many other avenues for use of economic boycott. In addition, we should demand that just as Black males have been jailed in such great numbers, bad police officers should not return to normal life and normal work even though they have a proven history of police brutality. What about a “three strikes you are out” policy for police officers who brutalize the Black community? Why do they return to work rather than go to jail? Brutality should never be allowed in our communities. This has to stop now.
Malcom X’s words “by any means necessary” still resonate in the streets today. We can understand and empathize with this point of view if we just look to Black History. Let us remember Army Sergeant Isaac Woodard. He was a decorated Sergeant coming back from serving in World War II. Still in his uniform, he was taking a bus on his way home to his family and just needed to go to the bathroom at a rest stop. For no reason, the police were called. Although he had served our country and had done no wrong, he was beaten so severely by police officers at the scene and later in jail that he became completely and permanently blind in both eyes and suffered partial amnesia. The pain we see in the streets today is deep. I truly believe that peaceful protest is an important tool and also our civil liberty. But peaceful protest alone takes perhaps more time than we want and unfortunately when bad apples on both sides commit violence with no direction or purpose, our best efforts can backfire and ultimately not solve the problem by itself. Let us include the third option, which has shown tremendous efficacy as well as efficiency: take away the money, which is an important civil liberty tool as well.
Democracy is not an attempt to be equal, but on the contrary, it is an equal attempt to be different. When he sang “Say it loud: I am black and I am proud,” James Brown improved black consciousness and taught us all to be proud of who you are. “Segregation of the mind is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our democratic health can be realized.” As Oprah once said, Excellence is the best deterrent to racism; therefore, be excellent. Instead of looking at the color of one’s skin, look at the content of their character. Visibility is viability. Be visible in politics. From Rodney king to George Floyd, enough is enough and now we can form a united front together. We have come a mighty long way. If not now, then when? If not Us, then who? Let us do it together in the pursue of justice. You can win without anybody losing. Someone once said, if you ask me to name my greatest achievement, I will say that it has not happened yet because what is done happened in the past and I am looking for better justice for tomorrow. And if you ask what is my greatest mistake in life, it is that my dreams were too small. Therefore, let us aim high and dream big always because future change IS possible. YES… WE CAN. Previous generations created our country’s culture. Our generation is creating our country’s future. Let’s be active and purposeful rather than passively allowing others to create our country’s future. Most importantly, let us build the future together irrespective of race, color, and creed. Come and let us build a new world together.