Don’t talk about it, be about it.
Those words have been running through my mind when reflecting on the current state of racism in America. As a Canadian, I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t been privy to the impact of racial inequalities on a personal level. I never even experienced it until the three years I spent attending high school in Baltimore.
I witnessed the Baltimore riots, the race stuff, and the Black Lives Matter movement—all of it was out there happening right in front of my eyes.
And there is no escaping it.
Every time I log into social media, there is always another story of someone being murdered or discriminated against because of the color of their skin. Racism isn’t a dead concept, and black people have been fighting this battle for so long.
I feel that in my heart every time I see people marching in the streets and protesting for equality.
There is no progress without real steps towards change. We didn’t come this far just to come this far, especially after witnessing the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. I remember how angry I was when watching that video for the very first time.
It’s hard to put into words the hurt of witnessing a police officer—someone entrusted to serve and protect—kneeling on a black man’s neck and choking him to death.
Yet, the part that really got me was Floyd screaming out for his mother.
Through all of it, the cop didn’t budge, flinch, or do anything. A grown man was out there screaming for his mother and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” and none of it mattered to the police officer.
He continued his dead-eyed stare, hands in his pocket, without budging.
Why would anyone do that? How could anyone do that?
Not many jobs can mimic the stress of being a police officer, but George Floyd didn’t deserve to die that day. He wasn’t a threat.
There were no weapons or anything that could have been pointed to for things to ever escalate in that manner.
We have to hold police officers accountable. Other police officers have to hold one another accountable. This is not acceptable.
Playing basketball has always been something that has given me an opportunity to spend time with an ever-changing, diverse group. The sport helped me stay out of trouble by keeping me busy. It also opened the doors for me to join Oakland University, a school that has consistently proven to be sensitive towards racial issues.
I feel like Oakland is very flexible in giving me, and so many other students, an opportunity to have a voice. They actually do a lot of “Speak Out” meetings in an effort to bring light to serious issues happening in communities across the country.
People are allowed to speak their minds and stand up for what they want to say.
I couldn’t ask for a better support system.
It doesn’t come as any surprise considering the amount of diversity at the school—not only in the athletic community but also on campus.
One walk around the school and you are sure to run into people from all parts of the world.
That genuine university experience is one of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to attend a Division I school, and my journey at Oakland hasn’t let me down in the least bit.
Even outside of campus, there is plenty of diversity in the surrounding area to feel good about openness and inclusion in the community.
But that doesn’t mean we should take our foot off the gas in speaking out on these issues. If nothing happens as a result of this ongoing plight, things will simply go on as they are right now, and the black community will continue to end up with the short end of the stick.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on American history considering the majority of my childhood was spent living in another country.
Every day is a new opportunity for me to grow and learn from those unafraid to walk the walk.
Don’t talk about it, be about it.