What happens the day after you show up to a march and chant: “Black.Lives.Matter?”
You can go back to your life where black people play a minor role.
What happens the day after you show up to a march and chant: “We believe that we will win?”
You can easily forget that you’re fighting for something. Racism can seem like just another one of the world’s problems when you’re not facing it every day, when you can shrug it off if it ever seems too stressful, too angry, too intractable.
I don’t want to be just another white person who shows up to marches. I don’t want relegate it to simply another dinner table conversation: could racism really exist like that in the Minneapolis police department? Are things really that bad in the twin cities for black people?
I know the answer is yes, but I also know that it’s hard to truly internalize it unless you see it first hand yourself.
I’ve spent most of my life being that white person who vaguely cares. I definitely knew that racism was a problem, but could spend days without feeling particularly concerned about it. Something has changed, and I know that it has to do with caring about people personally and hearing their stories.
I didn’t spend 18 days helping to occupy the 4th district Minneapolis police precinct because I had any great notions of myself as wonderful white ally. I didn’t spend 18 days in Minneapolis because I had established myself as an activist. I spent 18 days there because I happened to go on the first night. I saw anger, I saw hurt and I saw racism first hand. And I found myself going back the next day because I started to feel a sense of care. And I want back the day after that because it started to feel like a community. And I went back the day after that and the day after that because I couldn’t imagine not.
The occupation of the 4th precinct would end eventually because all things eventually do. But tonight I feel great sadness because of the loss of a community where people of all different colors actually talked to each other. Where they fed and clothed one another. Where they listened to each other’s stories.
I’m scared of going back to a world where I only hear stories they sound mostly similar to my own. I don’t want to just show up at once a week rallies. I want to fight and I want to care and I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like. I’m scared it might not look like much at all.