Evanstonians respond to the recent murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and the false report made by Amy Cooper against bird-watcher Christian Cooper
"I was so shaken by what I saw Tuesday that I have not been able to function much since. I will not post the video of the brutal murder of George Floyd by law enforcement, and I ask you not to either--further traumatizing Black family and friends with another senseless, preventable death by the hands of someone sworn to serve and protect!
I watched a video of the Minneapolis mayor who struggled emotionally to convey what he saw. I did not know that after the Mayor's video I would witness the slow, heartbreaking murder of a man who was being arrested for a non-violent crime (over a forged check!), and he called out "Mama!" as the officer pinned his neck under his knee for FIVE minutes!
“For five minutes," Mayor Jacob Frey said, "This officer failed in the most basic human sense."
I know what I've written here is too long, but another life was taken due to our inhumanity. How long does it take YOU to process this kind of tragedy? I need to take the time this life deserves.
I am going to say something wildly unpopular now. I need to say this without dishonoring the life that was taken, because our hearts are broken, and this is about bringing that crime to justice.
Still, this needs saying:
I work with a lot of police -- police who signed up to serve and protect the public for a job that is seen so negatively now that it's hard to recruit people.
How do you sign up for that?
The vast majority of the officers I have worked with have never fired their weapons outside of the practice range.
The vast majority of them are offended when people thank them for doing their jobs properly, fairly, respectfully, and for NOT shooting someone.
The job is to serve the public, and the officers who abuse their power reflect poorly on all of them. They know this -- these four police officers have put every officer on high alert because they are viewed as the same, and that's how the media portrays them.
There are without question bad people who should not be in those positions, and they abuse their power.
They should be exposed and brought to justice for their crimes. These are the stories that make the news -- not all the times that officers are threatened with a weapon but don't shoot. The vast majority of them don't shoot, but those stories don't make the news, and there are far more of those -- ask any officer. I promise you.
I know I'm going to get heat for putting this out there because three other officers at the scene stood by as accomplices to this murder. And I know too many people have their own stories of not being treated respectfully by police, myself included.
Unfortunately, when there are too many stories like this, they dominate the news and it feels like, "All police are...," fill in the blank. Yet we know we can't say "All ___ are...," for anyone. If you catch yourself doing that for any group of people based on the actions of a few, you know you're stereotyping, right? And yet we do it all the time. And stories like these point to how sick and broken we are as a society.
God help us, we canNOT continue this way!
Whether we're walking down the street, walking our dog in a park, or tasked with serving the law, WHITE PEOPLE need to do the WORK to understand why we are all complicit in the violence and injustice that puts our Black family and friends at risk because of the color of their skin.
All of us have work to do.
Because if you've bought into the myth that Black people are not deserving of equal treatment and justice as you are, you're at the foundation of the problem.
If you've ever crossed the street to avoid someone who looks different from you, locked your car doors or gripped your purse or your child closer to you when a Black person just walks past you, you've bought into the myth of what Dr. Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas calls "the criminalization of the Black body," and you don't even know it.
So if you're working from home or not working at all right now, and you've got time, I beg of you to set aside some time to do the work, to understand systemic racism and our part in it.
And if this is all too much for you to take on right now because you have other stresses in life, or it's just “too hard to deal with," so you can tune out these channels and go on about your life, that right there is a place of privilege -- choosing to look away and not read these stories because, what ... Coronavirus is out there? It's all too much. Isn't it?
Well, our Black friends can't just skip this story because they don't have time for it now. In fact, they suffer daily from our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs and behaviors.
Lives depend on us urgently attending to this work. And if you feel strongly that ALL LIVES MATTER, then we agree that BLACK LIVES MATTER, so stop silencing the people that need to remind us of that.
It's 2020, and there are enough resources out there to do the work ourselves without traumatizing Black friends, family and colleagues by asking them to explain how they are oppressed by racism. No short cuts.
Do your own work.
And if you've stayed with me to the end, feel free to put your favorite resources in the comments -- videos, books, blogs, podcasts, movies, articles -- things that shook YOU from your complacency and helped you to see from the lens of the oppressed. Because once you gain that lens, you will see injustices everywhere, and we need you to help point them out in order to begin to break them down.
If you still don't see how differently people are treated because of their skin color, then maybe you should watch the horrific video to wake up to our inhumanity.
Now let's get to work!"
-- Rina Campbell is an Evanston resident. She has been an Anti-Bias & Equity consultant for 20 years and is a member of Dear Evanston's board.
"As a Black man myself, each Black man killed like this kills a part of me...and everything lives off the death of something else. SO....the struggle lives on and feeds a part of my Black male identity.
In 1971 Gill Scott Heron said, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Well....in this day of cell phone videos some among us are fooled into thinking that the revolution is being televised. THIS, my good people, is NOT the revolution!
The revolution must begin in our MINDS - we (all people) need a new mental construct of what it means to be Black, to be American, and to be Human! The revolution must begin in our HEARTS - we (all - some more than others) need LOVE...NOT some Romeo and Juliet stuff...but a TRUE love/knowledge of self, a love of life, of our planet, a love for one another, and a love for something greater than our own hedonistic desires, wants, and wishes.
The revolution must begin in our SOUL - in that space within us that is distinct from us, where morality lies, where spirit emanates from, that place deep within that is too often distracted by the trappings of society, discouraged by the onslaught of negativity, and disconnected from truth, purpose, and meaning. And NONE of this revolution will be televised. For, as Francois de la Rochefoucauld said, "True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world."
It is from this space that we are justified in our outrage, anger, and full frustration! For anyone NOT riled by injustice, I dare say, is devoid on some level of their own humanity, as were the Minneapolis police officers who killed brother, George Floyd; as is Amy Cooper - playing the race card - in New York (who called police on Christian Cooper who was out watching birds), etc.
It is from this place that we must ACT! Act towards the illness at the top by doing all that is necessary to vote in a new president and a new congress. Act towards the illnesses within our inner core that are the source of the strife in the world. Act on any number of the plethora of issues in between what's happening nationally and what's happening individually that plague our planet, our life, and our existence. Join the revolution!"
-- Gilo Kwesi Cornell Logan You can listen to my interview with Gilo Logan from 2018 here
"I started my morning listening to Malcolm X speeches, before his pilgrimage to Mecca, because that’s where my head was at. My mind suddenly took me back to being a student at the University of Minnesota.
I started remembering my time moving throughout spaces in South and North Minneapolis, including the intersection of Chicago Ave. and East 37th St. Soon as I arrived in Minneapolis, I became very aware of what my skin color represented to a state that boasted about being very liberal.
I started reflecting on my time as the President of the Black Student Union and spending most of my energy being a top student dealing with racism as an undergraduate scholar.
My passion was fueled by the evils of white supremacy...in this “very” liberal state. I saw a state respond out of fear to the influx of BLACK people moving in from Milwaukee, Detroit, Waterloo, Chicago, Ethiopia, and even Mississippi...not sure of what to do with the BLACKENING of their city.
I watched and even worked for a corrupt criminal justice system match mass construction of prisons, equal to the mass incarceration of BLACK men.
And then I gave birth to a son. I knew that if he were to be born with this target 🎯 in his back, I had to raise him in a community of “co-conspirators and not allies.” As Darnisa Amante-Jackson strongly suggests, you’re either one or the other, and your role is vital.
There is no perfect box to put my rage...this visceral anguish is synonymous with giving birth to a BLACK boy, and sending him into the concrete of this country that fears his total existence, while praying that he returns home vertical, breathing and not broken.
You can listen to my interview with Monique from 2018 here.