This past week has been tough to watch, tough to live in. It pains me to see history repeat itself over and over again. To see how desensitized some of us have become to racial injustice.
I was pleased to see so many cities across the country organizing protests and rallies in response to the death of George Floyd. I was having a conversation with someone over the weekend about these protests and the Black Lives Matter movement and he related the group to the KKK saying they should be labeled a terrorist organization. Appalled, I asked how on Earth he could come to this conclusion?
“Because every time Black Lives Matter is in the news, it's negative. It's a riot, it’s looting, it’s cars on fire.” Stunned, I sat back and realized, he’s right. That’s most of what we see in the news cycle, but that’s not all they’re about.
I hate that that is a reality. I hate that countless peaceful and silent protests have taken place before this weekend and fallen on deaf ears. When the LA Lakers wore “I can’t breathe” warm-up shirts in 2014 after a jury decided to not indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality. When countless black actors, actresses, athletes, businessmen, politicians and our own neighbors tried to speak up to beg for a change, no one listened. Now our cities are on fire. Are we listening now?
As a journalist, I immediately want to do my part to help change this narrative. To help change this messed-up reality. But the most important part of wanting to cover this movement is realizing and remembering that although I may have a voice and an opinion, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.
I’m white. I’ve always had things that fit me perfectly: from dolls when I was a little girl to the beauty products I use as a grown woman. My life has been difficult at some points, but it was never difficult because of the color of my skin. I have never thought twice about taking my dog for a walk at night. I’ve never had a police officer pull up behind me and fear for my life. I will never understand what it’s like.
So what can I do with my white privilege and position as a journalist to help affect positive change in the grim face of racial injustice? I can take the back seat and let the voices of my black brothers and sisters take center stage.
We want to show you the everyday heroes behind this movement: the activists, the business owners, our community members. We want to celebrate their accomplishments, their strides and tell their stories of how they continue to overcome prejudices everyday to move forward.
Seeing a few familiar faces at the rally in downtown Chagrin Falls Tuesday, the Rev. Morris Eason and his daughter Marissa, couldn’t have made me happier. The two have been frequent visitors to our office for years now, their vibrant personalities always bringing a few more smiles to my day.
Rev. Eason has taught me countless lessons of strength and perseverance through example and during a few boxing lessons. I’ve had great chats with Marissa, with her fiery personality and determination to make a difference in the face of any injustice. She may be just a teenager, but she is wise beyond her years. It’s individuals like these two and their outspokenness that are invaluable in the face of this movement.
We’re seeing far too much of the bad outcomes in the news cycle and the message, again, is being diluted. The local protest is a perfect example of this message getting out clearly and calmly.
We need change. We demand change, it’s long overdue.
It’s time to deviate from the headlines of riots and fires associated with the movement. It’s time to educate, speak out, share and celebrate. Black Lives Matter. The black community deserves that much, and so much more.
Ms. Bole is the Times graphic reporter.