Hey America, It's Time to Wake Up

Protesters raise their fists during a march trough Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2015.  Thousands of young protesters marc
Protesters raise their fists during a march trough Baltimore, Maryland on April 29, 2015. Thousands of young protesters marched through downtown Baltimore demanding justice for an African-American man who died of severe spinal injuries sustained in police custody. AFP PHOTO / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The recent events occurring in Baltimore have made me think about my own experiences speaking out against the blatant racial injustices happening in this country. On January 14, 2015 a tragedy occurred in my family. My cousin, Marcus Golden, was fatally shot by the St. Paul police in a situation that did not have to end that way. We see these stories of young black men and women being unjustifiably killed by the police, but to us they are just stories. We think to ourselves, "Wow that is horrible, but this could never happen to me," but it could. That horrible reality faced my family that dreadful January day. Fueled by the desire for change, my family participated in the Black Lives Matter Reclaim MLK march in St. Paul, Minnesota. The feeling I felt in my heart was something I had never before experienced when I saw the thousands of people, all from different walks of life, gathered together to stand up for what they believed in.

Yesterday as I watched Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake speak on the events in Baltimore, I felt a sudden wave of anger as I heard her and other councilmen repeatedly refer to the protesters and so called "rioters" as "thugs."

"Thugs?" I asked myself. These are people that have opened their eyes and seen the issues in this country. These are the people that are not afraid to let others know what they believe in and to draw attention to this problem. If Mayor Rawlings-Blake so easily referred to these people as "thugs" she would have no problem referring to the people who fought for the civil rights of African Americans, her rights, in the 1960s as "thugs," right? Yes, maybe the violence got out of hand and could have been handled in a better way, but it got the attention of the entire country. We need to wake up. I know it's scary but we cannot afford to keep living in the fantasy world inside our heads where racism does not exist, because it does. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can take actions to turn this country around.

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline today I have seen many influential voices speak out. Grey's Anatomy actor Jesse Williams tweeted, "Police and policies have been rioting on our bodies; destroying people and property every single day of your lives. But here you come..." He also tweeted, "You want us to condemn black folks being violent against PROPERTY but you NEVER condemn police killing actual PEOPLE." I wholeheartedly agree with Jesse that America's concerns are in all the wrong places and we have a serious double standards issue. We have the stories we hear on the news, but how about the many that don't get the full blown national media coverage? Don't forget about those. How many more minorities have to die at the hands of the police who are supposed to protect us before we finally wake up? How many?

I strongly encourage you to comment your opinions on Baltimore, only through dialogue can we truly learn.

Reach one teach one,

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