By Elena Aguilar
I don’t know how to respond to my own rage. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. More names to say. More dead bodies. More fear. More rage in my body.
The officer who killed George Floyd had 18 prior complaints against him.
One of the other officers who was present, who watched George Floyd die, had tortured an unarmed black man a few years ago in Minneapolis.
Breonna Taylor was executed by police in her home.
Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog.
A white woman walking in Central Park frantically called the police claiming a black man (who was bird watching) was threatening her life.
Here is the spectrum of state sanctioned racism and violence. And it’s been going on for so long.
Last week, one day after I’d read too much news, I sat with my 16 year old son on the couch and he let me hug him. Sheltering-in-place has made him more affectionate. I held his body, his brown body, grateful for its wholeness. I thought again about Trayvon Martin’s mother and Michael Brown’s mother and the mothers of so many other black boys and about all that fear and strength and power. And then we had yet another conversation about these latest police killings. Because it is my responsibility as a mother to help him process this government-approved violence (that’s what it is when law enforcement officials get away with murder year after year). And so I opened the conversation.
You’ve heard about George Floyd? I asked. Of course, mom, he said. Annoyed teenage tone of voice. What’s been going through your mind and heart? I asked. And he shared his rage. His fear. He cursed a lot.
Most of the time, I feel like I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t know the right thing to say. But I speak anyway.
I don’t know the right thing to say to you. I don’t know the right thing to say to my team. I don’t know the right thing to say to my cousin who posts on Facebook that “those thugs are asking for it.”
But I speak anyway. I cobble together words and sometimes later I wish I’d used different words. Sometimes my words feel clumsy and inarticulate. But I speak anyway.
Black lives matter.
Who do you need to speak to and listen to about black lives?
Here is an insightful read from the former mayor of Minneapolis describing the deeply problematic local police department that can shed more light on why this level of reform is essential.
Make calls to demand all four officers are charged and an independent prosecutor is assigned to this case.
- To independent local media conducting on-the-ground high-quality live content from the front lines of struggle.
- To youth groups like MIGIZI that supports Native youth and had their building burned down
- To community groups like:
- Communities United Against Police Brutality: a Twin-Cities based organization that was created to deal with police brutality on an ongoing basis.
- Reclaim the Block: A Minneapolis based coalition demanding a divesting from policing and investing in systemic solutions.
- North Star Health Collective: a Twin-Cities based organization of health professionals who provide medical support and harm reduction strategies during gatherings and protests.
- Midway United Funding Collaborative: a St. Paul based organization supporting small business owners in rebuilding their storefronts.
If you identify as white, here is one of many resources you can read with recommendations for how to activate yourself and other white people to take ownership for dismantling white supremacy culture.
While not a comprehensive list, here is a list of organizations to support in Minneapolis.
Independent Local Media: