I remember the day of George Floyd’s murder clearly. I can never forget that moment in my life where I was so incredibly alone in my apartment bathroom and a sobbing mess. As I endured those 10-minutes, those last few moments of his life with tens of passersby pleading for his release, I became a pool of distress, frustration, grief, and shock. I had never experienced such emotion and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. How to console a newly fragile spirit that was now terrified to exist. The feeling was something no conversation could prepare me for.
The videos didn’t end with George. Instead, they carried into the following month all through June 2020 as Black Lives Matter protests erupted nationwide. I couldn’t log into social media without watching the public lynching of the Black community by the hands, guns, and knees of law enforcement. The public outcry was unruly for my empathic energy and I felt every emotion absorb into my bones and stiffen my joints. Fear doesn’t begin to express my mental space. Walmart trips amidst a pandemic became the least of my concern as I directed scenarios of my personal run-ins with Karen’s across the state of Michigan.
Would I be arrested for defending myself? Is recording it really a good defense? Will I be the next Black woman in America to go missing without anyone blinking an eye?
For months I pondered—and still do—what I could do to stop feeling this way. How could I stop making other Black women feel this way? How can I make lasting change? I began looking ferociously at news headlines and following environmentalists left and right, signing petitions and joining the efforts of national organizations. And that still wasn’t enough. Talking about it wasn’t (isn’t) enough for me.
In 2020, environmental causes became the forefront of my concern as the pandemic pointed out major disparities in BIPOC communities, in oceans, and in wildlife. Alarming statistics and laws were shared with me on social media which made me realize I (even as a Black woman in America) still had privilege to clean, accessible water, healthcare, and proper amenities to survive harsh winters and illnesses. But the problems continued growing as the 2020 election neared. And with it my sanity depleted.
I grew more and more disgusted with the nature of American politics. How emboldened supremacists were, how cowardly senators were, how vicious and malicious the sitting president was acting publicly with no ounce of remorse or embarrassment. Just pride.
And here I sit in my shoes, working hard every day just to get insurance coverage and an unemployment check I’m entitled to but never received. Taking it “day by day” in hopes that the next day will be better. That the next day will feel somewhat normal. But I don’t want to go back to normal. Normal in America was mass shootings every week, corrupt government officials, and racists hiding in plain sight. I don’t want that for anyone.
I am not the person to complain and then do nothing. So, I must do something. Anything. It makes me feel better to know I am not part of the problem, but the solution. It makes me feel better to know that I protect not only myself, but the others in my community and in my shoes as well. I would have never expected to be on this path in life but I’m grateful that I am.
I think being an activist is what I was meant to do.