I woke up this morning with so much heaviness on my heart and mind. So much unrest in our Country! Unrest in states like Minnesota, Denver, New York and Kentucky just to name a few. Today is hard and difficult! I am in so much pain. So much hurt. And so much anguish.
I’ve been taught to never disrespect the office of the President of the United States and now, being an officer of the Military I’ve been tasked with upholding that. But these tweets today are abhorrent.
There’s a lot to break down about our president's most recent tweet, so let's start.
“Thugs” = coded racist language to describe black people.
⁃ reminder: Minneapolis is only 7% black. This group of protesters is diverse and showing true solidarity and ally ship.
⁃ The first day was peaceful, yet protesters were met with rubber bullets, tear gas and etc.
⁃ While I can’t confirm this to be a fact, various news media and other sources on the ground have shared videos and photos that many of the fires and etc were not started by protesters and were started by police from neighboring cities.
⁃ Personal hot take: seeing what your country is doing wrong and speaking up and out about it, doesn’t make you a “thug” it makes you a “patriot.” A thug is a violent person, especially a criminal. The color of your skin is not defined in the definition of “thug” and yet, this language has been used today to define the protesters, and not to define the man that murdered George Floyd.
“Dishonoring George Floyd’s death”
The only way to dishonor his death is to allow things to go back to normal and to allow the people responsible for his murder to roam free and to say “ no crime has been committed!” The dishonor of his death is our justice system failing him and his family. The riots are a response to a senseless killing & a lack of hope and faith in the system. Things can be replaced, lives cannot and right now, we have seen far too many times where it appears that black lives do not matter and that justice is often not just.
“The Military is with him... when the looting starts, the shooting starts”
Sadly, this phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" was used in 1967 by a former Miami police chief Walter Headley during the Civil Rights Era to "crack down" on civil rights protesters and invoke violence.
Our Military is in place to protect, defend, and honor our citizens. One can say that in some cases, our military can be called upon in to provide order, too. However, what our military absolutely should not be is a partisan tool and allow itself to be weaponized to harm, shoot, or possibly kill the same citizens we have sworn to protect. Same, goes for our police. To wake up this morning and see this tweet deeply pained me as a Naval Officer, as a black woman, and as an American and it should pain you, too. Any time you see a leader asking for brutal force to be applied on his own citizens it should be troubling and alarming.
And today, I have found myself thinking of the intersectionality of it all. Thinking of the coded language that suggests those in the military don’t have an identity behind our uniforms. That without our uniforms, any black person in the military is placed in just as much risk as Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others.
America, I need you to see us and see us fully. The President was able to see that other protester (those that opposed their governors order, when governors were trying to save lives and do what they thought was best by mandating a “Stay at home order unless for essential needs") were “very good people” who were fighting to have their “lives back safely." And yet...
Why can’t the same be said here?
Why can’t we be seen and heard for wanting to simply live?
Riots are not new to America... you can look in the history books (see the Boston Tea Party, Stonewall, the Suffragettes and etc) or you can look at every town that wins any major sports championship. NONE of those have been described as “thuggish” behavior or with nearly the same view of disgust.
Pay attention, please.
Pay attention to what happens when a leader asks for violence against his own citizens.
Pay attention to whose lives matter and whose don’t.
Pay attention to the words you use and what they mean. What impact they have.
Pay attention to when you decide to engage in the issue.
- Is it at the onset of when the killing or wrongdoing happens or do you wait in anticipation for the anguish, looting, rioting to find your voice only to criticize and justify murder?
And pay attention to what happens when a military, who is supposed to be apolitical and for the service of our nation, is being “asked” to move in a contrary fashion.
I hope more of our Military officials speak out. I hope more conversations can be had. And I hope more people can open their eyes and truly hear and see the pain of what some of us are experiencing right now.
A man is dead behind an alleged counterfeit $20 bill. Think about that.