Updated: Jun 4, 2020
So much good came out of Saturday’s protest with the Community Solidarity Network here in Toledo. But there was hardly any word in the media about all that good. Instead, the majority of the focus turned to the violence that later ensued.
My question is: why?
Why not report on what was shared; that gave citizens an education on why they were at the protest in the first place. Why not share the tangible steps that were shared for people to call for police accountability, methods to reverse discrimination, and what steps citizens can take to make our communities more inclusive, safer, and ways they can promote unity and humanity, and the steps they can take to eradicate racism and hatred?
Here’s another question: why didn’t the police and city officials JOIN the protest? This was a MISSED opportunity for everyone to come together in solidarity. I’m confident this step would have lessened the tension, as they could have been seen as possible allies, as opposed to enemies.
In all transparency, I felt deep unrest on Saturday morning, concerned about safety before delivering my speech at the rally. I even shared my hesitation with the rally organizers and almost avoided speaking. However, my concerns were quickly dismissed when I arrived and, as a result, I did speak. All of the attendees at the rally were attentive and there was an air of concern for what they could do to help. It was beautiful and I felt like I was a part of something bigger, listening to all of the speakers. This is all done in large part to the rally organizers, Washington Muhammed, Julian Mack, Ruth Leonard, and others.
So, now, I wish to give our community some tangible steps, and share the good that came from Saturday, with some action steps that folks can take NOW.
Here they are:
Pray, breathe and seek God’s wisdom. First and foremost, I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God is in control. I also believe we all need a daily self-care practice that helps us remain healthy and vibrant in our body, mind and spirit, and to seek God’s will, above all else, as we do our best to bring about justice and peace.
Speak up against racism. Social media is a good place to start, considering we are still in a pandemic and folks have concerns about large gatherings. Or get out and protest - just do it safely and as peacefully as you can, and share a common purpose and speak about it.
Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about systemic racism. Follow people on social media that have been doing anti-racist work for a while, not just because it’s the latest thing to talk about. And start by checking out these few resources:
Watch: “I am Not Your Negro” (James Baldwin documentary), “The Hate You Give” (movie by George Tillman Jr. based on the novel by Angie Thomas).
Read: How to Be an Anti-racist by Ibram Kendi, and The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblind by Michelle Alexander.
Check your friends and family. Take it a step further and STAND against racism and microaggressions by calling it out in your small friends and family group. Be sure to listen to one another. Show empathy. This is where real change happens!
Speak up at your place of employment. If you see injustice, inequality or a lack of equity, SPEAK UP and share this with those who lead your organization. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, gather a group of like-minded people who see it and share it as a collective power. Don’t just let this happen. Know that your actions can make a huge difference and bring about systemic change.
Connect with city officials and demand: police de-escalation reform techniques, banning of chokeholds, require implicit bias training and police community hours, and request an independent oversight committee be formed that includes community members to oversee police conduct.
Consider supporting the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo to help bring awareness to the injustices experienced by black men, women and children who are disproportionately murdered, attacked, provoked and harassed by law enforcement in Toledo Ohio.
Consider supporting the Grassroots Law Project a national organization helping victims of police discrimination and to reform the justice system.
Consider supporting Campaign Zero - an organized effort to support the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns, and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.
VOTE in November, 2020.
It’s great that everyone is NOW AWAKE to the injustices that Black people have been talking about for years! I just don’t want this to be a fad or a hashtag with a few shiny posts and protest.
WE NEED A REVOLUTION. Change starts with each and every one of us.
If we all do our part, we can make a huge difference. Take the above steps seriously.
Then, take all that momentum all the way to the polls in November and VOTE!
I’ll be doing what I always do, and that’s fight for justice, inclusion, and equity, day by day, step by step. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.