Trigger warning: graphic image descriptions
Last week I watched a “snuff” film. I watched in collective growing horror and dread as George Floyd’s breath was snuffed out by a police officer during a live video stream. I refused to look away. I had to bear witness to this cold, calculated execution of a Black man. My inner voice screamed along with the witnesses who demanded and begged for the other officers to intervene or show mercy. I froze along with them as the only other emotion Chauvin showed was fierce brutality emphasized by a threatening gesture with mace to ward off anyone who dared to take his kill. As Floyd breathed his last, my hope for his salvation eked out as my heart sank and bile rose up in the back of my throat. I watched in despair as the medics carelessly tossed his limp body onto a stretcher and drove away with his corpse.
It writes like a movie. It could be a video on the dark web. Horrifically and tragically, this “snuff” film happened in my America. Not in the dark but fully in the light. Not through hazy body cam footage but through the lens of survivors who surely will live the remainder of their lives viewed through a trauma lens.
Yesterday, I joined in solidarity with thousands around the globe in a local march for justice. Black Lives Matter – Waterloo Region, African Caribbean Black Network (ACB) and Selam Debs, organized and successfully executed the KW Solidarity March for Black Lives Matter. With thousands of others, I left the safety of my home during a pandemic to raise awareness for anti-black racism and march for justice. I marched and knelt with and for my son, my daughter, my trans-child, my friends, and my global family – Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and LGBTQ2+. My husband and thousands of other White Allies marched for a future without anti-Black racism and for the end of police brutality. We demanded in loud, rolling chants for the dismantling of systemic racism and White supremacy from our local and Federal governments. Dr. Funke Oba, MSW, PH.D, African community elder, proclaimed a powerful call to action to all Canadians and community members in the Waterloo region. She declared that to in to be in “true solidarity” means an ongoing commitment to “Reflect, Relearn, Resonate, and Respond” in order to enact long-lasting local and global change.
Yesterday, I couldn’t catch my breath as I laid on the hard asphalt with arms behind my back in a visual demonstration of those forced into submission. As tears burned my eyes, I saw a sea of other protestors sprawled on the hot ground. With pride, I saw my son (already a victim of a racially profiled traffic stop while driving in Kitchener) in the same position. I whispered a prayer that this would be the only time he would lie prostrate on the ground. That this pose, that HE chose would only serve to be a symbol of strength and power – a beacon of hope.
Today, as I reflect, in my mind, I can still hear the echoes of the chants: “No Justice, No Peace. Black Lives Matter.” In my heart and soul, I carry the sorrow of so many lives lost. (#saytheirnames). I carry the fear of what the future holds for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and the LGBTQ2+ community.
Yet, crowding out the fear and sorrow is a renewed Hope. I feel in my spirit a rising revolution – a collective community thread of Hope and Justice rising from the South and heading throughout True North (we are strong when ALL are free!) I believe that #blacklivesmatter is not just a mantra, but a movement gaining momentum with the power to change the world.
To my Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and LGBTQ2+ community, know that you are not alone. We are here to help. No stigma, no more silence. You are so strong. Be brave. Please reach out for support.
Grace R. A. Brown, RP, Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries
KW Solidarity March for Black Lives Matter Livestream is on Facebook on the Black Lives Matter – Waterloo Region Page