Despite escalating police violence, arrests, and city-mandated curfews, protesters are continuing the crucial work of speaking out against the murder of George Floyd by police officers and the continued violence against unarmed black people. For reasons that escape logic, protesters and activists are still being asked the same question by reporters and those who refuse to come to terms with America’s history of racism: Why are you here? How do you feel about the looting?

It’s a series of questions too often forced upon black people who are expected to educate the masses while simultaneously being oppressed, murdered, ignored, and told to be quiet and “get over” hundreds of years of institutionalized racism. Why can’t you protest this way or that way? Why can’t you do the thing that makes other people comfortable with your anger? As if a basic understanding of American history isn’t more than enough as a starting point to answer these questions.

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One woman, who was stopped by a NY1 News reporter outside of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center during a protest Tuesday, not only answered those questions but posed one herself: What did people think was going to happen?

The woman, who was not named in the news report, explained that because she is a black mother and social studies teacher raising a black son, “I have no choice but to be here.” When asked by the reporter about whether “looting [is] overshadowing the overall message,” the teacher responded, “The government gave $1200 to people to survive on in March, what you thought was gon’ happen?” with a facial expression that perfectly illustrated her bewilderment at having to explain such a simple concept.

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“You took summer youth away from the youth,” she said referring to New York’s Summer Youth Employment Program. “What you thought was gonna happen? People are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

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DISCUSSION

exileonmystreet
exileonmystreet

Leslie Redmond, the head of the Minneapolis NAACP, was on MPR this weekend and two things she said that have stuck with me:

1. She called Minnesota “white Wakanda”, which is just brilliant.

2. Despite the governor and mayor’s claims that only “outsiders” were responsible for looting and arson, she walked towards it as a part of uprising, including this:What you’re witnessing in Minnesota is something that’s been a long time coming. I can’t tell you how many governors I’ve sat down with, how many mayors we’ve sat down with, and we’ve warned them that if you keep murdering black people, this city will burn. We have stopped this city from burning numerous times, and we are not responsible for it burning now.”

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