My last civic protest was about banning casino gambling on Miami Beach, Florida. That was close to a decade ago. Yesterday, I walked the same route, this time holding a sign that read “Racism IS the pandemic.”
The degree of urgency and social relevance was like night and day. The negative impact of Vegas-style casinos on a small resort city does not compare to the devastating and far reaching consequences of systemic racism.
The sentiment I brought to the #BlackLivesMatter march was deep and heartfelt. I am a white woman, born in Cuba and raised in New York. Here I found myself among a sea of strangers of all persuasions, who were not strangers at all. The moment our feet hit the pavement, the chants began in unison, and we were one giant organism moving slowly with purpose.
Bystanders cheered and joined their voices to ours, while others jeered and hurled insults. Some depraved creatures amused themselves by throwing eggs from the balconies of the luxury condominiums that flanked our course. Nothing seemed to bother the hundreds of marchers, myself included.
I was in the flow of people allied in moral outrage against injustice, and it felt powerful, even joyful.
At one point we knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, in memory of George Floyd. As I became aware of the pain in my right knee from the rough asphalt, I sighed with gratitude for the opportunity to let my voice be heard because there can be no neutral position on racism.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice . A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” Those words should be the moral compass for anyone with foggy notions of civic duty at this crucial time.
The times call for actions big and small because no lives matter until #blacklivesmatter. The right to work for safety, opportunity, and happiness belongs to all Americans.
This is a time for people of all backgrounds to learn, listen and engage in peaceful actions and conversations about racism and discrimination of all types. But perhaps most importantly, it is the time to speak up, take a stand, and be better together by helping to lift up black voices and ultimately equality for all people everywhere.
I will march again next weekend knowing that together we can do better and be better.