There’s something that needs to be said…
The problem is, I’m not sure where to start. The fact is, there is a lot going on in the world right now and no one with compassion in their heart should remain silent. The thing about silence is that it is a choice we make to protect ourselves. It is a choice that I truly understand. Our world seems so full of anger, hate, and fighting, that it can become overwhelming and if you are a feeling human being, it’s tempting to shut it all out for your own sanity.
I deactivated Facebook because the negativity of Republicans, Democrats and everyone else spewing hate was becoming too much. I try to stay out of those things, and in any form of media connected with my career, I have held a firm policy of not getting into politics or touchy subjects. I’m a writer. My words are what puts food on the table for me and my son. As such, I felt, I have to choose them carefully, not step on toes or take a stand.
I saw the same video as everyone else. I watched a man being murdered as he called out to his mother and begged his attackers to let him breathe. I read the same Headlines as everyone else about Breonna Taylor being murdered in a home invasion by people who thought they had the right because they have a badge. I watched a man chased down in the street and executed by shotgun with no trial after committing no crime. I watched all of this, and still, I was silent.
I comforted myself with the bare minimum effort while still largely staying out of the discussion. I signed petitions and even let my rules bend a little to allow for the occasional sharing of a Twitter post or perhaps a limp-wristed and obvious statement about justice. What I’ve come to realize is that if you are not using your full voice, if you are not speaking to be heard, you are still being silent. Talking to yourself doesn’t count. advocating under your breath doesn’t count.
What do you see?
At the beginning of this, I mentioned the things we have all seen in the headlines, but I want to go deeper into what we see, what we don’t, and what media allows us to see. Several things recently have taken hold of my attention and forced me to see that silence is not an option.
Breonna Taylor was killed in her home when she was shot 8 times! this happened on March 13th. This was more than two months before the murder of George Floyd became the big news story. It’s now been nearly four months and no charges have been filed and the majority of officers involved in the shooting are still working, only one having been terminated.
Elijah McClain was detained by the police for “looking suspicious” and ended up on the ground in a choke-hold. He was injected with Ketamine and loaded into an ambulance where he had a heart attack and later died. Elijah was not a criminal. He was not a threat. He was a 5’6 140-pound anemic vegetarian who spent his spare time playing the violin for stray cats. Go back and read that sentence again and tell me why his life needed to end the way it did. He was peaceful. He was not even aggressive in his speech as he was being held down by multiple officers. The thing that I found most disturbing was that this all happened on August 24th, 2019. It wasn’t until the protests surrounding George Floyd’s death took center stage that Elijah’s case got a second look from national media. Elijah didn’t get national coverage because his life wasn’t deemed important enough.
The media allows us to see what they want. I recently went to youTube and looked up the George Floyd video and found that the search results are flooded with commentary and distraction, while the original videos had been removed or at least relegated to the back pages. In the middle of nationwide protests, I saw citizen reporters on TikTok capturing and sharing what was really happening in the streets. Today, I went to TikTok and found videos that had been re-uploaded after the platform deleted them. information is being censored and removed, and we should all be terrified of this.
Speaking of the media, Are you aware that multiple black men have been found dead by hanging just as the KKK is rallying their forces in response to the Black Lives Matter movement? Of course, these have all been officially ruled as suicides and the news isn’t going to spend much time looking closer.
What about the riot cops showing up to the Vigil honoring Elijah McClain. Yes, I said vigil, not riot. Musicians gathered in the park playing violin in honor of Elijah, and the police showed up using pepper spray and batons to assault them. This is a fact. This did not go unreported by the news (see the link below until YouTube takes it down) but the pure Orwellian nightmare that this represents cannot be reported enough.
The above and more has forced me to realize that not only is our silence deafening, but our speech is duty. If you are a creator, an artist, an influencer, a blogger, a painter, a poet, a human being with a voice you don’t get to be a bystander. You, me, everyone has a choice, and if like me, up until now you have chosen silence, it is beyond time to make a new choice.