I was here in ’92. I’m here now. Where are you?
I’m from Los Angeles-curfews are not new to me.
The violent beating of Rodney King captured on film. An example of police brutality against Black bodies. One of the impetus for the unrest. 28 years later…..not much has changed.
1992 was the year that guns were drawn on me for the first time as a young girl. You know what else is not new to me-RACISM. I experience it everyday; the covert, overt, insidious, and everything in between. Most days I can’t give it my time or energy because I’m trying to be the best version of myself along with being a mother, wife, sister, friend, educator, diversity practitioner, podcast host, and advocate for justice.
One might say that I’m outspoken and passionate — it’s because I always want to stand in my truth, calling things out as I see them. It’s also because on most days someone is attempting to silence my voice, identity, and experience. It’s a treacherous journey but I keep going because I have to model for my daughter what it means to be a strong, confident, and resilient Black woman (just like the women in my family have showed me), as well activating White people to engage and take part in issues of social justice and anti-racist work. It’s a hard fought battle but I know the work I do is important. This burden isn’t for Black people to carry-we didn’t create the system, but we all function in it!
I’ve been encouraged by the activation of so many of my former and current students. They are mobilizing; taking to their social media and into the streets to say ENOUGH! Yes, young people — keep going, you heard me when I said, “you have a responsibility to leave this place better than how you found it”.
So, I say all of that to say, we’re on the precipice of something big!
You can’t murder Black people in broad daylight without impunity and think that we were going to go about our day, business as usual. And, why would you want us to?
People are in pain-they are angry, sad, frustrated-they have every right to be; you can’t tell them how to feel!
For those critiquing the manner in which people are protesting, I want to ask you: have you critiqued the systemic racism and systems of oppression that would allow for such actions to prevail in society that have been accepted and normalized?
Did I miss when you were fighting for justice?
I haven’t heard your voice, so why do you feel you can be so loud now? Unless, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves to fight injustice, I need you sit this one out. I hear your silence.
If you’re ready to stand in solidarity to fight this beast, LET’s GO — united we stand; divided we fall! Are you ready? How will you show up?
The time to act is now and Black people are no longer waiting to convince you of our humanity!
Don’t call it a riot; it’s an UNREST!
Ralinda Watts, a native of Los Angeles, is a cultural commentator, diversity expert, consultant and writer who works at the intersection of culture, identity, race, and justice, sparking thoughtful conversations on what matters most; authenticity! Her weekly podcast, #RalindaSpeaks, is available on Apple, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Connect with me on Instagram & Twitter @RalindaSpeaks