Written by Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward Alderman:
“A riot is the language of the unheard” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Generally when I speak “we” I speak for 74,000+- Evanstonians, this message “we” is the 12,000+- Black residents in Evanston.
We have not been heard, we can’t breathe, we are not ok.
I am in a constant state of defense, trauma and anger. Like a low grade fever these feelings are there through all the love and joy of my friends and family and life highlights but trauma and rage chases every highlight and this week the fever has been paralyzing. We are paralyzed but still showing up completely traumatized to serve, perform and compete. I have been so angry I’ve wanted to flip over the Dais, I’ve wanted to say WT actual F in meetings. I have gone to bed AND awakened in tears and shortness of breath from witnessing public executions of Black men. I sometimes grind my teeth in my sleep from the frustrations of dealing with dismissive and elitist mostly white men in my own City. So, I use the tools I have to respond to our oppression from systemic racism, over policing, financial exclusion and the countless ways we are dehumanized. Emotional outbreaks in my position will be dismissed, I fight and resist with policy and programming. Reparations Now.
I also understand the importance of protest, I understand the outcomes of destruction. It is a shame that mass property destruction and financial loss is what it takes to get the attention of the system. It is a shame that we are still treated as 3/5 of a citizen and pacified with ceremonial fluff. The data that is valued so much in every other situation should be enough to bring the change overdue. Complete freedom is still pending for us in America, we are only nominally free.
As we struggle through the devastation of COVID-19 and managing disparities in COVID cases and crushing financial loss we are ordered to “Stay Home” in houses with often 3 generations of our families and lessor property standards and accommodations. We are returning home from our essential jobs or “making do” with complete income loss from our businesses or job loss. We “Stay Home” to experience modern day lynching AND modern day seasoning. Sick. Seasoning. We stay home in oppression and watch life threatening racism and public executions. It is played over and over again. It is not new. This torture and black murder is a continuation of the same practice of their enslaver ancestors, the only difference is the technology to record and share broadly.
Today there is a Rally/March at 1:30pm starting at Ridge/Church and I imagine it to be a safe and non destructive demonstration verbalizing the rage felt by black residents and our allies and my commitment is it will result in even more radical policy advancement. Thank you to the young adult leaders that organized this protest.
The memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor will be lifted up today and not in vein.
They are the latest added to a stomach turning list of murder of our black brothers and sisters by white men and police officers.
Today is the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre and Destruction of Black Wall Street. There is a symposium this evening hosted by ACLU that I recommend watching if you still don’t understand our pain. It is 1 of countless actions from white supremacy that led us to the riots of this weekend and the disparities we are committed to correcting.
There is a Juneteenth celebration happening in our City in a couple weeks, please learn about it and support it. It is organized by Kemone Hendricks, Evanston’s Virtual Juneteenth Celebration.
Additionally you can complete your Census and Vote to protest white supremacy.