This week marks one year since the death of George Floyd and the worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.
Like others around the world, I remember watching the video with shock and horror and it took some time to process what I had seen.
Meanwhile, most of the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City centers were eerily quiet, schools and businesses were closed, people were out of work. Suddenly these streets were filled with crowds of #BlackLivesMatter protestors.
City streets were quiet for weeks
Then erupted in flames, engulfed in grief
So much sadness infused with madness
An absence of empathy
As the coverage of the protests dominated the news – along with COVID-19 and the U.S. election – people learned of many other instances of police brutality.
History repeats over and over again.
After years of working as a journalist and trying to see both sides of a situation, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the video taken by a bystander – as well as security footage showing what happened in the minutes leading up to his death – made what happened in those nine minutes and 46 seconds even more horrifying. At the same time, it’s not right to vilify all police officers because of those who fail to uphold their oath to serve and protect.
He couldn’t breathe, they ignored his plea
How much evidence did they need?
So much hating, devastating
Decaying behind the scenes
As I prepared to post a black square on social media, articles started instructing people not to post black squares because the black squares were dominating social media instead of useful information that could be shared. So I didn’t. I thought about posting something, but then there were articles about the sincerity of white protestors of #BlackLivesMatter, whether they were actually doing so in solidarity or because it was trendy? Between that and the vitriol spewed on public social media when people post their opinions, I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew I wanted to say something because what happened was so significant. So I wrote and posted the below instead, and judging from the responses, many others felt the same way.
I don’t know the right words to say
Need to say something away
We can’t be silent
Because silence means nothing will change.
I wanted to share this song on this particular week to commemorate what happened a year ago. I never wrote music for it since it felt more like a poem to me so instead I kept it more of a poetry reading and added some background music to it. I hadn’t done this before so I’m not sure if it works, but here it is; it sounds better using headphones.
The song also fits in this week because of the latest conflict in Israel and the reverberations felt around the world in hateful acts, with Jewish people being attacked on the streets. The online attacks have also been difficult to witness. Once again, I wasn’t sure how to engage because of the verbal attacks that happen in social media feeds (fortunately not in my personal Facebook feed, but sadly other public forums have been brutal.) It took me three days to write it, but I finally shared a post on my blog just to get it out in the world in hopes that anyone who needs to read it will come across it.