We were both at home working when we found out that a Black Lives Matter protest in honor of George Floyd was occurring in San Francisco at noon. Without hesitation, we knew that it was imperative to show our support and attend the protest - despite the current pandemic. 15 minutes of coordination later, we met a group of allies and walked to Civic Center to join thousands of protesters on a march from Civic Center to the Mission District Police Substation.
Most of us have seen or experienced protests for different causes throughout our lifetimes. Whether it was the Women’s March or the March for Science that happen on an annual basis or other Black Lives Matter protests around the country. This week the actions of the police officers in Minnesota that caused the death of George Floyd sparked the powder keg that has been slowly filling over the last several decades. This altogether has struck a different kind of protest and call to action.
We (Karen and Becka) are minorities ourselves. We both come from diverse backgrounds. Becka, a mixed raced girl who’s a Bay Area native and someone that grew up in the impoverished neighborhoods of East Oakland. Karen being a Chilean immigrant, who has experienced what life is like in an America that has consistently affirmed an anti-immigrant agenda.
When we arrived at the protest near Main and Harrison, we could hear the chanting of “I Can’t Breathe” from a distance as throngs of police suited up in riot gear blocked the entrance to the highway. The air was heavy with chanting and yelling, with hundreds of people raising their fists in solidarity. We were both immediately overwhelmed by the pain and suffering you could hear in the voices of the protesters and started crying. We both felt angry and frustrated as the events of recents weeks and years played across our minds. The experience of a protest is powerful, and we were both drawn in immediately to the collective outrage.
We experienced a range of emotions from catharsis to bravery to fear to anger and despair. Reflecting on the experience now, we still feel these emotions but are now empowered to do something about it.
We marched with our brothers and sisters in the streets of San Francisco. We were seen, we were heard, and we made our invisible brothers and sisters known. We must now continue the work. It doesn’t end with participation in one protest. We must all pledge to do better until others are no longer suffering. No lives matter until black lives matter. We need to continue the conversations sparked by recent events and empower others to have conversations about the systemic racism in this country.
A lot of us are feeling like we don’t know how to approach the subject of police brutality and racism in a productive way that will effectuate change.
One of the best ways we’ve found is to start the conversation with friends and family. We’ve heard ideas from hosting Zoom roundtables to spark conversation and share information.
We invite you to share what resources have been helpful for you in guiding these conversations.
*By Karen Toro and Becka Roberts.
Please comment below with conversation starters and educational resources or your story.
For resources on what to read, watch, and discuss with your friends, family, and close acquaintances, visit https://blog.fracturedatlas.org/resources-for-white-people-to-learn-and-talk-about-race-and-racism-5b207fff4fc7