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Justice for _ _ _ _ _

by Sherlyn Assam
woman holding microphone during Black Lives Matter protest

Photo by Courtney Hobbs on Unsplash

When these deaths are followed by hashtags instead of convictions, I often wonder when the murderers will tire of being fuelled by hate. When our peers and our friends and our families and their cops and their government will shout loud enough to be heard over 400 years of white noise.

I should not know George Floyd’s name. I should not know Breonna Taylor’s. I should not know Ahmaud Arbery’s. I should not know Sandra Bland’s. I should not know Philando Castille’s. I should not know Eric Garner’s. I should not know Michael Brown’s. I should not know Trayvon Martin’s. The list goes on.

When black people pass each other in the halls, on the street, in cars, we often exchange a nod or a small smile. Even if we do not know each other by name, we know each other by collective experience. We are nodding to this, greeting one of our own in a place we have not been welcomed, and smiling because we are still out here, against the odds.

The odds were not in George Floyd’s favour – or any of my fallen brothers and sisters, whether I know their names or not. There should not be a hashtag, should not be injustice, should not be murder, should not be a combination of hatred and power.

And yet, there is. And where racism is, corpses follow.

While I wade in the sorrow of knowing George Floyd is not the first and will not be the last, I am still kicking to stay afloat. We will not be crushed by the pressure of institutions made to obliterate us. In fact, we will break the knee of the system, of the perpetrators.

I should not know George Floyd’s name, but now that I do, I will not forget it. I refuse for him to be swept aside as they count on our routines to distract us from the atrocity. Their error is failing to realize we are living in this atrocity.

Showing up on social media, the streets, in offices, and the courts is not an event we RSVP to. We are living it. We can breathe. And with every last breath, we will fight.

Justice for George Floyd. Justice for us.

If you’re moved to support necessary change, consider the following:

Additional content on related issues we’ve found illuminating include:

Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Jericho Brown interviewed on CBC Radio’s Writers & Company
Sherlyn Assam is Informed Opinions’ Media Engagement Coordinator and a graduate student in the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program at Carleton University. 

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