My Experience at #BlackoutNC

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Let me start by saying this post will probably be one of the most important posts I’ve written. Ive done my best to sit with my emotions and opinions and reflect on what i wanted to say and how i wanted to feel about it. So, here goes 🙂

In the last month or so, Black people and people of color have been tired far more tired than they’ve been.. So much information has been brought to the eyes of the world through social media, and so much to digest….and for some it has been more than difficult to cope with. I haven’t spoken much about it, but have expressed some of my opinions through shared posts and tweets, knowing that eventually I’ll be able to find my own words to write pertaining to it.

To say I’m tired, enraged, upset, saddened are all understatements. Each person that becomes a hashtag becomes a constant reminder that things are not and maybe will not change for Black people. We will always have to look over our shoulders, wonder if we’re doing the “right” thing to not be approached by the police, Black women will always be worried about their young black sons, Black men and women will always tense up when dealing with police, hoping that they don’t perceive our fears as hostility and be compelled to act.

I finally decided to be active about showing my support for our community and our people, and on June 7, I participated in the #BlackoutNC event, held here in Greensboro, NC. It was a peaceful protest and demonstration that was held to speak out about racism, discrimination, police brutality, injustice, police defunding, etc. There were speakers present who discussed their experiences with racism and discrimination, calls for reform and change by our city council and mayor, and demands for policy changes and defunding of the police to put those funds into other areas of need (education, homelessness, etc.). There were over 2500 people in attendance at the event; all of various walks of life.

When I first heard about the protest, I didn’t know if I was going to attend, but after giving it more thought, I knew I had to. I wanted to feel that I was a part of something bigger than me and that would make me feel that I participated in something that would make an impact. Attending this event did that for me andand it also made me proud to see the community come together for something that is severely impacting and affecting Black people.

I learned a lot at the event; even about Marcus Smith, who died while in police custody and the incident involved Guilford County Police Department. His family is still working to seek justice, and a formal apology from the police department and mayor for the events that led up to Mr. Smith’s death.

The Smith family speaking at #BlackoutNC event

Greensboro has its own history regarding civil rights and civil unrest in the city. The Greensboro 4, who were well known as the four gentleman who held a sit-in downtown in the city of Greensboro at the Woolworth’s Department store, which is now the International Civil Rights Museum. The sit-ins lasted for six months and sparked a movement across the country.

Civil Rights Museum – Greensboro, NC.

The event ended with a peaceful protest through downtown Greensboro for the countless men and women who have lost their lives to police brutality (#blacklivesmatter), making changes to police reform and practice (#defundthepolice) or because of discrimination (#blacktransliveatter).

Because of the peaceful demonstration and the respectful demand for dialogue about how to make this city better, the first steps (although small) were taken by the mayor rescinding the curfew on the city:

“To all who have been peacefully protesting for changes in priorities and policies, I hear you. It is time to begin the work of systematic reform through collaboration and communication,” said Mayor Vaughan. “I am encouraged by the willingness of protesters to organize peaceful demonstrations and engage in meaningful dialogue. We will continue to support peaceful protests while ensuring participants are safe.”

– Mayor Nancy Vaughn, Greensboro, NC.

All in all, the experience was powerful and made an impact on me. I felt like I was definitely serving a bigger purpose by being apart of this protest. It also was inspiring to see various races and walks of life coming out to support Black people and drive home the fact that Black lives matter; and it doesn’t mean being anti-white, and it also doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. Black lives matter simply means what it says; and until things begin to change, it will be a proclamation yelled throughout the streets of all cities of this nation until things do begin to change. Being a part of this event was something I will remember forever, and will always be proud of myself for making a small impact on changing the narrative on how bipoc are treated in America. My only hope is that with more peaceful demonstrations and protests, change will begin to happen in this country that we live in.

If you would like to support Greensboro Rising and help the city of Greensboro’s demands be met, please click here to sign the petition!

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