6/8/2020 – Amplify

Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it, and you’ll start believing in it.
~ Jesse Owens

The last two weeks have been both encouraging and exhausting. Terrifying and exciting. Frustrating and hopeful.

One of the core initiatives of the current Civil Rights movements of Black Lives Matter activists is to amplify black voices. So rather than sharing my normal weekly thoughts of things I’m focusing on, I’m going to quote other black voices in this week’s writing, as well as highlight/share the things I’m reading currently to deepen my understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression and how it affects the lives of our black brothers and sisters daily.

With the onslaught of information, emotion, direction, learning, outrage, and more that has been flooding into our news feeds, it has probably gotten a little overwhelming for some people. While I think it is important to contribute to and immerse oneself in this wave of information that is seemingly “suddenly” available (in quotes because it’s always been available, but never more culturally thrust to the forefront and prioritized, unfortunate as that is, than it is right now. And there’s no time like the present to contribute to the improvement and repair of society), I also think it is good to check in frequently and review progress as it is being made, to ensure everyone knows the general direction in which we are all marching.

Here are a few things I’ve either been tracking myself, or cobbled together from my social media news feeds (I’m sure there is a lot more):

I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.
~ Serena Williams

Officers being held accountable for gross misuse of authority, nationwide:
– Minneapolis upgrades charges to officers in George Floyd murder
– “No-knock” warrants suspended in Louisville in response to Breonna Taylor murder by police (they were at the wrong address)
– Denver officer fired for tweets celebrating police violence
– 2 Officers fired in Atlanta for tasing a couple while in their car
– 6 additional officers charged for additional violence during protests
– Louisville, Kentucky Chief of Police fired.  – due to shooting of David McAtee
– San Francisco announces new hiring policy prohibiting hiring of police with history of misconduct  
– Seattle issues ultimatum to police unions demanding accountability for racist practices

You don’t have to be one of those people that accepts things as they are. Every day, take responsibility for changing them right where you are.
~ Corey Booker

Racist monuments to infamous white supremacists removed/destroyed in:
– Birmingham, Alabama
– Bentonville, Arkansas (scheduled)
– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
– Alexandria, Virginia
– Richmond, Virginia
-Fort Myers, Florida

Start where you are, with what you have.  Make something of it and never be satisfied.
~ George Washington Carver

Policy change campaigns launched:
– Denver, Colorado announces Senate bill SB20-217, police accountability reform bill
– California Prosecutors launch campaign to stop District Attorneys from accepting police union money
– Atlanta denies proposed expansion of prison system

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
Frederick Douglass

Movement to de-militarize and lessen power of police nationwide begins:
– Mayor of Tulsa agrees to not renew Live PD contract
– Minneapolis announces plan to defund police
– Los Angeles announces $150million reallocation from LAPD budget to community social programs
– New Jersey announces Policing reforms
– Richmond, Virginia announces Police reform
– Portland, Oregon discontinues use of armed police officers in schools

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
~ Barack Obama

I am encouraged by these progressions made only in the last 2 weeks! This only proves to me that we are capable of so much more in our society, and that for once in a very long time, I am seeing how positive change can be forced on a larger level. I keep thinking about what is possible if the pressure is continuously applied for a month, 3 months, a year. 

It’s not enough to simply hope.. I think one should always be learning something, so I have committed to re-prioritizing some of the books I was planning to read, as well as following a few local and national black activists that are thought leaders of this change. Here is a short list of some of these sources:

Ta-Nehisi Coates – 
Between the World and Me – a black father’s letter to his son, about the ways of the world.
The Case for Reparations – article in The Atlantic from 5 years ago, sparked a very interesting dialog about the use of policy in property, housing, and even lending as tools of segregation and wealth oppression against the Black Community.

@Chescaleigh – Franchesca Ramsey is an actor, author, and writer of MTV’s show, Decoded. I find her voice to be enlightening on the subject of race in today’s climate, and she’s good at breaking things down in simplistic bites.

Rachel Cargle – Rachel is a black author that has a 30-day course called “Do the Work” on her website at www.rachelcargle.com/ that I’ve just begun. It helps point out my racial blindspots so that I am becoming more aware of the disparities between my privilege and the privilege of others.

Shaun King – Activist, Podcaster, Speaker, Shaun King’s podcast, The Breakdown has been an informative, timely, and thoughtful look into today’s social justice issues. He also has a project at www.GrassrootsLaw.org which is “a policy plan that will radically change the system and confront police brutality and mass incarceration head on.”

These are just a few voices that I’ve chosen to begin listening to in order to educate myself on these complicated issues (there are plenty of other accounts I have followed on social media, but i haven’t delved deep enough into them yet to post them here). I have also begun following a few local activists and public servants here in my community of Denver in order to become more aware of local politics, with the intent of eventually finding a way to donate my time and money and get involved in my community.

What about you? Have you read any of these individuals’ work? Who are you following that I should know about? What are you learning? Would love to hear from you, and would love to keep these conversations going.

Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. Don’t put a ceiling on yourself.
~ Oprah Winfrey

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