Fear Normalcy, It Means We Failed
by Imani Finkley
I am in awe. We are living a critical time in society. We are living change. Honestly, I did not think this would happen in my lifetime.
Yet I am afraid. I fear that my grandmother, a nurse, will contract the coronavirus while braving the frontlines. I am anxious at the thought of my first college class being viewed from a computer screen. I worry especially for the Black men in my life — my father, brother, uncles, cousins, friends — who are utilizing a right to free speech that was not originally written for them. But, more than anything, I am terrified that I will wake up one day and everything will be back to normal.
Today, injustice creates resistance that becomes movements that become posts that become hashtags — hashtags that become the public’s focus until the next injustice occurs. I too have found myself swept up in the hashtags and the posts that show my genuine— but fleeting— urge to combat the spectacle. I posted my outrage concerning the murder of Nia Wilson, an eighteen-year-old Black woman who was stabbed on the way home at a BART station, and captioned my disgust with #SayHerName. And yet it is only now, almost a year later, that I wonder what became of her murderer, how her sisters are navigating their new realities, and whether the BART station ten minutes from my house has implemented any initiatives so that I am not the next hashtag.
I unintentionally succumbed to the spectacle that does little to interrogate the systems that allow such atrocities to happen. I allowed Nia Wilson to become a story to like and swipe past. Incidents that should be the start of in-depth evaluation and discussion about race in America are situated to be disposable and eventually invisible. As a result, we not only avoid the current state of our society but we also, perhaps unintentionally, reinforce white superiority through the dehumanization of Black people.
I do not say this to condemn #BlackOutTuesday or the thousands of posts, hashtags, and tweets that have sparked international outrage. Yes, information is essential, but it is merely the first step. I urge everyone to do more than like a post or retweet advertising Black death or scorning a broken system. Sign a petition, contact legislators, donate ten cents, and vote, because your voice matters. Little things can incite a huge change. We are already seeing this being practiced: the recently-passed Breonna Taylor law bans no-knock warrants in Louisville, Kentucky; NASCAR banned confederate flags at all of its events; and even Congress has released a police reform bill. We must do all we can to avoid getting lost in the spectacle that allowed the murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Nia Wilson and countless others to be forgotten for the sake of our comfort. Change is as uncomfortable as it is necessary. For if we go back to normal, then we not only have failed our children but ourselves.
RESOURCES - via blacklivesmatters.carrd.co
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Imani Finkley will be studying English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She believes that writing is one of the most meaningful ways to connect with others. In 2018, she medalled 3rd at the NAACP Academic, Culinary, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) for her original essay that investigated social media’s implications on society and socialization. Ultimately, Imani hopes to gain the literacy to articulate the complexities of the imagination. In doing so, she is excited to learn how language can help her understand herself and society as a whole.