The year 2020 has been a year of events that are unexplainable and out of this world. COVID-19 has forced the world to reshape how we go about our everyday lives and how we interact with one another. Being a college student, my spring quarter was online due to COVID-19. Then, George Floyd’s murder took place and has left the black community and people around the world at a loss for words and experiencing various heart aches. If you asked me to describe 2020 in three words, I would say “To be continued…”
Being a person of color, dealing with the killing of George Floyd and the many other black lives that have been lost this year and in the past, I feel I have a responsibility to speak up about racial injustice and systemic racism. I’ve been living in the Walla Walla area for almost a year and I’ve noticed that there is a lack of black people that live here. Even though there are not a lot of black people living in Walla Walla, the ones that do live here matter and our voices deserve to be heard and listened to. I want mine and other people of colors’ voices to be heard and taken seriously, not just during this time when it feels like the world has stopped, but continuously throughout life. There’s so much work to be done for the black community in making racial equality a reality for people of color.
Before the killing of George Floyd, I was not speaking up about racial injustice, nor was I staying in the loop about racial injustice. Even now, I still feel I need to pay more attention to all that’s going on in the world when it comes to racism, amongst other things. By trying to be more educated on the topic of racism, I’m able to have more in-depth conversations with people when the topic comes up in a conversation. To not acknowledge that there is racism is a serious problem and something that needs to be addressed head on.
I’ve gone downtown Walla Walla to protest for myself and the black community more than once this summer. The experiences I’ve had protesting in Walla Walla have been generally positive, but I have had a couple of experiences with naysayers as well. I wish that people who don’t have to experience racism could be open-minded, compassionate, and understanding to people of color who do have to deal with it. I want them to lend their voices in helping support the Black Lives Matter movement. This year has shown me that now more than ever it is important to come together in solidarity, supporting one another in changing systemic racism, and speaking up for people who can’t or are afraid to.
With police brutality having a strong intersection with racism and homelessness, it’s important to examine why, change societal stigmas around people of color and homelessness, and be a voice for people who identify with these experiences. People of color are hounded by the police time and time again due to the color of their skin and it isn’t right. People of color deserve to have equal opportunities like anyone else to live in America feeling safe, secure, and loved. The same principle goes for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing homelessness. Whether living on the streets, sleeping in your car, or couch surfing, being homeless is not fun nor should it be something society continuously overlooks and stigmatizes. In reality, people who have experienced or are homeless deserve so much credit for persevering and overcoming a very hard obstacle and circumstance in their lives.
As a Walla Walla community, each and every one of us has a voice that can be used to end racism, police brutality, and homelessness. It is important to address the unfair treatment of communities that are viewed a certain way, and to help make long-lasting change for these communities and the younger generation coming after them.