The Road to Healing

When the video of Ahmaud Arbery being killed while jogging went viral, it broke my heart. When I heard of Breonna Taylor’s death in her own home, it was crushing. And when I watched the nearly nine minute video of a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he died, I knew I could no longer stay quiet.

As a black man I cannot write this without sharing my own thoughts and opinions about this, the latest instance of an unarmed black man being killed by the police.

American comedian Dave Chappelle said it best. “Black people are very afraid of the police, that is a big part of our culture. It doesn’t matter how rich you are, how old you are, we’re just afraid of them. We got every reason to be afraid of them.”

I do not say this to insinuate that all police are bad, or that all police are racist. Because they aren’t. But when I get pulled over, I have no way of knowing what type of officer I am dealing with. That being said, interacting with police aren’t the only times I experience racism. It happens all of the time, even with subtle remarks with no malice behind them.

Things like, “But you’re black, why aren’t you better at basketball?” or, “You’re very articulate, a lot of black guys I know aren’t as well spoken as you.” Yes, I am black. No, we are not all the same.

Please, do not put me in a box. The things you say may not have the same consequences as a police officer drawing his weapon on me, but it hurts all the same. It hurts because putting us all into a box of what a black man is, and what a black man does, is the same reason Derek Chauvin was so comfortable kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he died.

In August 2020, I participated in a march on Washington D.C. to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the iconic “I have a dream” speech, by Dr. Martin Luther King.

As I stood there, I looked around and realized that the reason the fight against racism still rages on, is because it is a battle that takes place not only on a societal level, but on an individual level as well. To end racism on a large scale, it must first be abolished in our own hearts.

That goes for everyone, White, Black, Latinx, Polynesian, Native American, Asian, male or female, gay or straight, it does not matter. To finally end this poisonous mentality that any race is better than another, we must first look inwards if we wish to change the outside world.

March on Washington D.C. 2020. Photo by Jean Kraft

It has been nearly one year since Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds. It has been nearly a year since the summer of protests and outrage in support of the fight for Black lives. It’s been nearly a year and still, nothing has changed. The narrative has changed. “Of course Black lives matter,” has been said more times than I can count. However the reality is different, and nearly. a year later, Black lives don’t seem to matter that much after all. Daunte Wright was killed unjustly. Try as they may, there is no legitimate rationale for why he is no longer drawing breath on this earth anymore.

We protest and march about this. We sign petitions and write letters to legislators. We tweet and post about it. We initiate tough conversations with others about this, and yet none of that stopped Daunte Wright, and so many others from being killed. We need change, and we need it now. The change we need cannot come from the top down, it has to start with us as individuals, struggling to improve and become better, it starts with us, if we do not change ourselves, we cannot hope for the world around us to change.

After the summer of 2020, I thought things might truly be changing, that this time things were different, but right now all I can see is that police take one look at someone who looks like me and sees nothing but a threat. My blackness is not a threat to them. My blackness threatens me. My life is at risk because of the color of my skin. I refuse to let this go on, our children and future generations do not deserve to live in fear. We all need to look inwards and deal with the prejudice and hate we have within ourselves, because this cannot continue to be the norm. It is unacceptable. We must take it upon ourselves to break this cycle of hatred and racist violence.

We can no longer live in fear. We need to make changes so people do not have to be afraid of each other because of differences in the color of our skin. The world has seen enough suffering, it is up to us to do all we can to minimize the suffering of the world going forward. If not for us, then for the future inhabitants of the world, for our daughters and sons, and their grandchildren. We must build a better world for them. They deserve it, we deserved it, so the least we can do is do our best to give to them what we should have had.

Editor at the Ke Alaka’i and podcast host from Washington D.C.