Another senseless black death, committed by the blue “serve and protect”, “cops are your friends”. Another story about how he was “suspicious,” “fleeing” or “resisting.” The reasons they give for the necessary death of black bodies. Yet, they apprehend white men for violent crimes, like mass murder, without killing them.
I’ve guarded my heart from insensitive Facebook posts, news updates, and, if there was a court case, the ultimate acquittal.
James Baldwin said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”
Mr. Baldwin was a little conservative there. It is to be in a rage all the time. I can’t have a significant conversation without bringing up the “realities of being black.”
People describe me as bubbly and nerdy. I question if it’s a camouflage I have crafted for myself. Anything but the angry black woman. Pretty . . . for a black girl.
Then I watched the video. I am a black woman, and I am angry! How depraved is your heart, that you listen to a man pleading for air, a basic necessity provided to all living things by God, and you ignore it, guard it and relish in it! A grown man, calling for his mama, like a baby who needs immediate rescuing.
I have three teenage brothers. They are healthy, tall, muscular, handsome, smart, and, oh, of course, black. To some police officers they are number one suspects. Their minds are so distorted they imagine them as wild bulls, needing to be harassed, locked behind a cage or ready for the slaughter. God forbid!
How many more years of peaceful protesting will we do, as they target and kill our brothers and sisters one by one!? One man on the neck. One man on the back. One man on the legs. One man on guard. All men guilty of murder of the most heinous degree. Murders protected by laws that aim to kill us, deprive us of humanity and education, and make police feel superior because the person on the ground is scared and they are NOT!
My peers and I are hurt, and I won’t condemn them for the way they choose to protest. Those who will condemn them, let me ask you, how many protests did you go to? How many black bodies have you protected when being harassed by a police officer? How many honest conversations have you had with the police officers in your family, encouraging them to be fair and speak out against the actions of their colleagues? Not all police are bad!
Well, of course not. Not all protesters are violent.
When I visited the place Mr. Floyd had his life suffocated out of him, I saw many faces, different faces. Music played as people spoke, cried and danced in peace. I wonder, did that make the headlines? I was inspired by the message of hope and enlightenment the community members spoke of.
To young people, myself included, they are finally listening, and we have their attention. We are making history as we fight for a better future. We need to come together, strategize, and move effectively. For too long they have profited off our backs and brains, and done nothing for us. Let that change now. Society is a contract that can be torn and a new one can be written. It has been done before. We definitely can do it again.
We have the power to change who represents us and who writes our story from here on.
Rest in peace and power, George Floyd.
Victoria Ajaiy is program director of the African Cultural Club, a member of Health CORE Learning Community and 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota Rochester. This is a shortened version of a speech Ajaiy delivered May 30 during a protest in Rochester.