Systemic racism, in my opinion, is the most important and challenging issue in the United States today. America’s awakening to systematic racism in this country has been long overdue. From the tragic and unjust killings of innocent African Americans like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently George Floyd, to the countless undocumented acts of racism that occur every single day, everyone has a responsibility to take a stand and help find ways to resolve these issues. Inaction is unacceptable. Bishop Desmond Tutu once famously said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.
Growing up as an African American, especially an African American man in America, comes with several challenges and difficulties. I must admit that I have had it better than most young men in my position so far. Having two loving and hardworking parents who are college graduates, having the opportunity to play for the best men’s soccer college program in the nation, and having a platform to make my dreams come true are things that a lot of young black men in my position could only dream of. Additionally, I have always felt safe, loved, and protected around my teammates and coaching staff. Despite this, I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night with the same fear as every single black person in America: that we might be targeted, discriminated against, be thought of as inferior or even murdered -- because we are black. That we might be judged on the color of our skin rather than the content of our character. The recent death of George Floyd is a prime example of that.
I remember the day I first watched the video of George Floyd taking his last breath under Derek Chauvin’s knee as he called out for his mother and pleaded for mercy. I remember seeing the three other officers stand and watch as if nothing was happening. Watching that video made me sick to my stomach and I have not been able to bring myself to watch it again. Having been born and raised 20 minutes outside Minneapolis, it was a shock to see my home city unfold in the way it did. I remember walking down the street where the first protests and lootings had begun to take place after Floyd’s death. Almost every building down the road was burned to ashes. Graffiti painted every wall and street sign I could see. Broken glass from all the nearby windows littered the streets.
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We are BLACK MEN!..... We build .... We don't tear down other BLACK MEN! .... We have felt the pain of being torn down and we have decided we will be deliberate about building others! If I didn't tag you, please don't be offended. I tried to pick people I thought would do this challenge!! All too often, we men find it easier to criticize each other, instead of building each other up. With all the negativity going around let's do something positive!!? Upload 1 picture of yourself...ONLY you. Then tag as many brothers to do the same. Let's build ourselves up, instead of tearing ourselves down. ?? COPY AND PASTE ?? If I tagged you, don't disappoint me!!
A moment I will never forget took place at one of the main protests related to police brutality and the death of George Floyd. As I arrived at this protest with my friend, I noticed the tens of thousands of people at the event. People of all races, genders, sexualities, and ages were present. All these people set aside their differences and completely different backgrounds to come together for a community in mourning, suffering and anger. About 45 minutes into the protest, the event ended very abruptly. There was said to have been a white supremacist threat in the area. Members of the KKK were confirmed in the area. I had never seen a group of people so big disperse so quickly. I remember trying to find my car as quickly as possible and getting out of the area. I truly felt my safety was in danger at this moment, solely because of the color of my skin.
Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed. As more people use their social media platforms to fight against racism and police brutality, more people become aware of what is truly going on behind the scenes. People need to be aware of what is really happening and must try and stand up and help the oppressed.
Black people won’t be able to do this alone. We all need to stand up and answer the call for change.