The West View invited commentary from community members of color regarding the current protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis.
We need real accountability!
If unjust laws and policy allow an EMT worker to be shot in her own home, a jogger to be chased down by armed gunmen, or an officer to press his knee onto your neck until you can't breathe, then those laws and policies have got to be changed. We need some real accountability from our leaders and lawmakers, and actual reform that takes into account this country’s long history of treating black, brown, and poor people, as disposable.
– Ebay J. Hamilton, Glendale resident and D.J. at KRCL, 90.9 FM Community Radio
It Ain’t Over!
Our current era bombards us with information that can feel daunting to try and process, and the systems we live in do not encourage mindfulness. So, we have to be rigorous in our engagement with the information we may have access to. Some of the consequences of not being thoughtful is self-centered thinking and responses such as “what about us,” “what about this,” or “what if,” instead of being mindful of the actuality of “what is” and “what has been.”
What we hope is that we can better understand the importance and context of this moment. Our Black relatives are continuously hurting, and despite this, have enhanced all of our public lives and civil rights in their ongoing fight for justice, life, and liberation.
We feel it is important to learn and remember what has already been said and continues to be said by our Afro relatives in their work and legacy. We invite our friends, relatives, and other relations to STOP. LISTEN. THINK CRITICALLY. PROCESS. REFLECT. LEARN. CONNECT with what Black leaders, scholars, artists and community have been expressing, doing, and teaching for years.
– ‘Inoke Hafoka and Daniel Hernandez
Hafoka, Glendale native and son of Tongan immigrants, is a PhD candidate at UCLA in Education with a focus on race and ethnic studies. Hernandez, Rose Park native and urban diasporic Mayan (Wīnak) with several ancestries, currently lives in Tāmaki Makaurau (Aotearoa). He recently completed his PhD studies in Anthropology and is a lecturer at the University of Auckland.
Use your vote and your voice to bring about change!
I am very saddened by the death of Mr. Floyd and the many others who have needlessly lost their lives under a regime of systemic racism. I understand the frustration and anger now simmering in our nation and state. I encourage people to use their voices in a way that is productive to bring about change. I want everyone, of all ages, to get involved in changing the pathway ahead for our state and our country. Please register to vote. Voting will make a difference.
I, along with my other colleagues of color, look forward to working towards policy change to address the important issues we face with race and equality. We want to be that listening ear for our constituents and the catalyst for change our state urgently needs.
– Rep. Sandra Hollins, a Fairpark resident, representing District 23 in the Utah State Legislature
Why We March
Racism has been a plague affecting our nation for centuries, but sadly, we’re so accustomed to it that it has become our way of life. With the help of technology and social media, recent events have opened our eyes to a plague that is so deep, it will take centuries to overcome. However, we need to start and we need to start now.
This is the time for all Americans – Black, White, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and everyone – to stand up for justice.
This is why I co-organized a march and vigil from the U of U Institute of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to our State Capitol. While the gathering was meant to pray and remember those who have been so unjustly killed, it is also a time to act. As Latter-Day Saints, we believe that we are all children of God and right now our Heavenly Father’s Black children are being killed, marginalized, and silenced.
WE SAY NO TO THIS INJUSTICE!
– Madelaine Lamah, 25-year-old Salt Lake City resident, former Presidential Ambassador/intern under U of U President Ruth Watkins, and outgoing president of the African Student Association at the University of Utah.
I Hear Your Cry
I find myself in tears throughout the day, grieving over the injustice, grieving over the hatred displayed against men and women of color. Watching the video of George Floyd’s murder and hearing him cry out for his Mama did something to my soul. I saw my son under that knee, struggling to have a basic human right, the ability to breathe. I couldn’t stay silent.
I went and protested with my children on May 30 in downtown SLC. I wanted to stand with them, kneel with them, raise my fist in solidarity with them, all the while knowing I have a liberty they may never see; watching my children cry as they shouted “Black lives Matter,” knowing in my heart that they don’t – not to some people. All my children want is equality, justice, and to not fear for their lives – especially not from the men and women who swore an oath to protect them. As I cried out, “These are my children, their lives matter,” the officer in front of us began to cry. He could hear my voice, he could see our tears, and he could feel our pain. At that moment I knew he didn’t want to be seen as a threat, no more than my children want to be seen as one. At that one moment in time, he could identify with my 17-year-old daughter, who held a poster that read, “Does the color of my skin threaten you? Because your badge threatens me.”
I truly believe he understood what it felt like to be feared. He could see her little face with tears streaming down her cheeks. He could sense her anxiety as she watched more and more officers come out of the capitol. He saw her expression changing to panic as the crowd shouted “they are going to tear gas us,” and quickly changing as her cousin who stood beside her reassured her that they weren’t. He empathized with her in that moment as he did with me and when he could no longer separate humanity from duty he turned his head. Refusing to look at us any longer. I understood he had a job to do, and so did I.
My job is to use my voice, to speak up against injustice. To sign petitions that demand the arrest of all the officers involved. To get out and vote, so we can remove people in offices who don’t use their platform to create peace and unity or use their authority to punish those who dishonor the oath they took to serve and protect.
You may think I am speaking out of anger and hate. I tell you this. I speak from a place of love. There is no greater love on this earth than the love a mother has for her children. George cried out, “Mama, Mama”! When he did that, he cried out to every mother of a black son. I heard your cry, George. I hear you over and over again. I hear you in the voices of those who march, in the voices of those who chant, and in the voices of those who take a knee. All of them wanting the same thing. The ability to breathe freely.
– Laura Lucero, 48-year-old mother of Mexican/Italian heritage, is native of Glendale who raised her four bi-racial children there.
Equality and justice for all
We have all been impacted emotionally by the tragic murder of George Floyd. In 2020 Mr. Floyd died because he was black. Salt Lake City is no exception from racial injustice. People of color here still experience systemic racism. My heritage is Native American of the Akimel O'odham on my mother’s side and German on my father’s side. My children are mixed Native American, Mexican American, and African American. We’ve dealt with and witnessed systemic racism at school, work, and in the community. We have been racially profiled and harassed, particularly my oldest son who has the darkest skin color in our family. I wholeheartedly believe there is a need for protests in our community and worldwide to give voice for the vulnerable and people of color in our communities. I do not condone destruction of property and violent acts of any kind in the name of justice. I believe as a community we want equality. This will happen with transparency, addressing and recognizing individual biases, training to overcome the bias, and more. Systemic racism is complex, yet solutions are simple, if willing. I have hope our community will do what it takes to earn the trust of our vulnerable people and people of color for equality and justice for all.
– Juanita Washington, Poplar Grove resident, mother of six and grandmother of four