The past weeks’ protests demand that I hold space for many aspects of this historic moment simultaneously. There is activism in every state of the United States that inspires me. People in countries around the world also demand an end of racial violence in the US and their own countries. At the same time, we need to hold space for those brave enough to leave their homes and risk transmission of COVID-19 to have their say.
On one of the first days of the protest, I was able to see that so many of the people participating in the demonstrations are teenagers, like the students I used to teach. I see they are getting arrested, and police are putting them in jail for their activism against police violence. These jails are epicenters of COVID-19 transmissions. I cry because I love them. I have a special place in my heart for teenagers, having spent so many years sharing important life moments with them. I love them because they want a better life for everyone and are willing to risk their own well-being for the greater good. I also grieve for the tragedy of their young lives. First COVID-19, the loss of school, maybe the loss of loved ones, perhaps poverty, and the experience of how little the society they live in values their lives.
I also need to hold space for “there is no other way to get to where our world needs to go.” I sense that the brave souls leading and participating in this journey are not just doing this for themselves. They are acting with a “we” consciousness.
How is this Happening?
As I try to make sense of this moment, I kept asking myself how is this happening? As a child, I watched Vietnam war end because of demonstrations around the world. I thought that the demonstrations just happened spontaneously and the politicians surrendered to pubic opinion. I later found out that ending the war was the result of an immense effort to organize and educate society along with the the persistence, and the power that that desire to stop the war created. So I knew to look for what is not visible to me. These new and powerful voices that seemingly emerged overnight are not new. The events are the result of years of effort to organize and educate society along with power that the desire to end police violence other aspects of racism creates.
This post offers a chance to meet the leaders of this movement–African American women who used their anger around the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to create a vast network of organizations that helped us get to where we are today. They will tell you how they used their body sense of their lives to propel us to this moment in history. They offer many suggestions of how to be part of this energy and power. I hope you enjoy the video below hosted by Jane Fonda of Fire Drill Fridays in conversation with the leaders of the Movement for Black Lives Jessica Boyd, Colette Pichon Battle and Chinyere Tutashinda.