Take a Knee, then Stand Up

Take a Knee, then Stand Up!

I took a knee in City Hall Park today for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. Now I find myself reflecting.

Returning From City Hall Park I was reminded of the confusion that I felt when I witnessed the murder of Michael Brown in 2014. Through a sense of helplessness and what I understand now as flat out fear I struggled to make sense of what was happening in the United States. As one becomes painfully aware of the heart of an issue, it is natural that they would want to tell someone else. It is from that point where action is catalyzed it is where we are able to make change happen. That moment was powerful enough to move me to a place of a vision of eradicating systemic racism in Vermont. Action.

…Then came Brother George! George. Brother Floyd you changed the world. Thank you for the inspiration that led to the emerging work of community safety reform. Operation Phoenix R.I.S.E. was conceptualized as a result of you and what you stand for. The Reparations Task Force in BTV and much more followed. Recently, the health equity bill (Act 33, 2021), and NOW a statewide legislative joint resolution that racism is a public health emergency has birthed the future work of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance “Turning the Curve on Systemic Racism” Campaign.

Brother George, we’re just getting started! The slave catchers have awakened this nation to the knowledge that our freedom is much more than that of the right to not be killed or a so-called justice system that holds the folks who seek to kill us accountable.   That vision, though important falls woefully short of one that assures our ability to prosper and thrive. As we also fight for equitable access to housing, employment, education, health services, transportation and more, we will continue to insist upon a radical redistribution of political and economic power.

Our fight is as our ancestors’ was – to move beyond a place where black folks serve a nation, risking first class blood for second class citizenship and to ensure that for once, our children can understand the words “we hold these truths as self evident’ as words that are substantive and as embodied as true.  

Brother George, this is your day but it is now our fight and we who believe in freedom CAN NOT REST. Stand up!

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