Ten minutes ago I was sobbing in the car. Granted it has been an emotional morning with a friend losing a parent. But when I heard the descriptions of Eric Garner’s last moments alive being described on Democracy Now, a part of me broke. It seems unreal that this is 2014.
On Tuesday a friend asked people to attend the student rally on the Mizzou campus. It was both heartening and disheartening. For me, as someone who is twenty years out of college, it was impressive and inspiring to see what students has organized and to hear their voices. But it was incredibly depressing to hear them talk about the micro aggressions and discrimination they experience on a daily basis.
The leader read a Mizzou themed list calling out White Privilege. To say that some of the facts she shared were eye opening is an understatement. Time and time again I heard the speakers say that you need to check your privilege at the door. Sometimes we need to shut up and listen and this is that time. When I see people say they don’t understand the fear of police, the discrimination, I have to wonder do you not believe what your friends say? What these students say? What your fellow citizens say?
Listen. Listen to understand.
The last speaker on Monday chided the allies in the audience saying it wasn’t enough to show up and just say you are an ally. You have to earn that right. In a sense I disagree with her. Because I think it needs to be taken further.
It is not enough to call yourself an ally. An ally is someone who joins in to give support to a cause but this is not just a cause we can say is someone else’s. When our friends and family tell us they feel like second class citizens, it’s becomes our problem. When our fellow citizens are being shot and and choked to death, it is not someone else’s cause. It is every American’s cause.
The rally ended with linked hands and a repeating of intentions. I am paraphrasing but it began with “it is out duty to fight for our rights and it is our duty to win.” And it is my duty, and yours, and every one’s to not let this die. It is our duty to speak up, to act out, and to make the change.
We are part of the problem and we must be part of the solution. The protest chant goes “Show them what democracy looks like.” It’s time to really show what democracy looks like.