Episode 6 – Protesting – What’s the Use?
This is Advocate Activism. As a queer, 42 year-old Black woman, once I witnessed the murder of George Floyd, I began to question – How was I able to move through life not knowing what redlining really was? or Jim Crow? Even Juneteenth – I didn’t understand the depth or understand why these things are so important to my own history. I’m Amira, I realized that I was asleep to systemic racism. And there was an anger in my belly that I had never felt before. I began educating myself and my community. And I’m taking my best friend Rayah along with me.
Hey, I’m Rayah. As the white woman accomplice, I’m committed to the work of anti racism. Anti racist is a title I will always need to work toward, not a destination I will arrive at. I come to this work with the knowledge that I will make mistakes and need to be corrected.
We believe in standing up for the oppressed against oppression and all of its forms.
We practice restorative justice, first, working towards healing and community restoration whenever possible. We also believe in boundaries that keep marginalized people safe.
We practice this in ourselves first, through learning how to sit in discomfort, and radically accepting ourselves and others as they are. With this being said, even myself as a Black woman, I’ve realized through education and studying, that I’ve caused harm. Not intentionally, but by not being educated. And once we know better, we can do better.
So Welcome back, everybody. It has been a year since the murder of George Floyd, and two months since Derek Chauvins guilty verdict. In many areas, protests are still going on strong, leading many to question the purpose and usefulness of protesting. So today, we’re going to dig into that. Before we get too far into it, uh just to note, yes, it’s been a little bit since Amira and I have been on, it’s been a little bit of a gap. But I don’t know if anybody listening has ever ran their own podcasts. But it is very difficult to maintain a schedule. It’s also very difficult to keep things consistent when there’s so much going on. And so much has happened, right? I’m here with Amira and we’re just gonna get right back into it.
Yes, I’m so happy to be back with you. It’s so wild to think we were we were doing it so consistently, and then life just, wow, gets away. It gets away.
Yeah, I think one of the things that, you know, you’ve helped me with and that I’ve been learning overall is just to be able to go with the flow. And just, you know, what, if life changes gears… it’s- the worst thing you can do really is fight that it’s because it’s going to make the suffering increase, it’s going to make the stress increase. You just kind of have to change gears and say, Alright, well, we’re on a hill now. So let’s put it in low gear.
Yeah, yeah. So before we get get into it, I would love to touch base because today is actually Juneteenth. And Juneteenth is something that honestly for me, I’m 43 now. And for me, I knew of Juneteenth, I thought it was just some celebration for Black folk, I did not know the history behind it until last year. So I just want to really touch on that. And so Juneteenth that goes by a number of different names like Black Independence Day, the Tex- Texas Emancipation Day, but to many, many Black Americans, it represents freedom. And so basically, in 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston te-Texas, and they informed the enslaved people that were there that they were actually free two years prior, when President Abraham Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation, so that’s what Juneteenth kind of is. And there’s a lot of there’s a lot of information going around whether it’s, you know, politically correct to say Happy Juneteenth. Or not happy Juneteenth or what you should do or what you should not do. But all in all, to say, it is Juneteenth. I’m honored to be going to a Juneteenth celebration today and being a part of helping plan it.
yeah, so hang on, though, like let’s, let’s hang on that for a second. See, so that troops arrived in Galveston two years after the emancipati- emancipation proclamation was passed. So, people were enslaved for two years after we had abolished slavery.
Yeah, see like that is just, I think today because we live in a day where like, information passes so quickly, and we tweet on one end of the world, and then you know, it’s instantly available everywhere, that we don’t realize how slow information travelled sometimes. And even then they have the ability to get the word out faster if they wanted to. But it took troops arriving in Galveston to actually enforce that freedom for people who were enslaved in Texas.
It’s so wild. And to think that that has been really the trend ever since our country started, you know, delaying the freedom or rights of marginalized people, but especially Black people, ever since this country started.
And this week actually was the week where we found out that they made Juneteenth a federal holiday, starting next year, in 2022. But the really sad part of it is, they’re also trying to stop, you know, is it critical race theory? Is that what they call it critical race theory or something like that? Education about systemic racism in schools, they’re putting a stop to that yet. They’re giving us a national holiday? it’s very, I read an article about touching on this, and it feels very, like I don’t know what to use the word tokenizing. But it’s like here, we’ll give you this, you know, here, we’ll give you this Be quiet. But we’re not going to go into the history of systemic racism and educate our youth in the world about this stuff. It’s, it’s, it’s exhausting.
Yeah, and the fact that, you know, we still have slavery permitted if you’re a prisoner, you know, and is that really freedom for Black people who are incarcerated at, you know, multiple times the rate of white people and for ridiculous things. And then we have forced labor, which is, many, many people have argued, is the modern equivalent of slavery. And that’s still going on. And we haven’t talked about reparations, and we haven’t talked about all these other things, but we’re just going to be like, it’s fine. We have Juneteenth is a national holiday. So you can stop complaining now. But I saw another gal had pointed out that what’s going to happen is, if it’s a federal holiday, and people start getting the day off, who’s going to get that day off? it’s gonna be a lot of white people and like office jobs and things like that. And the Black people are still doing service work, all that other stuff are going to be working on Juneteenth. And that’s very problematic. very problematic.
Yeah. So I have a question for you Rayah. It’s been a year, a solid year of us, like going hard in this life. Why the hell are you still here?
Why am I still here? How- *sighs* I don’t know how to be any other way. You know, like, I, and maybe sometimes I go too hard as far as maybe not in a healthy way for me sometimes, you know? I mean, it can always take a toll on our mental health to really go hard on things and advocate for things, but I don’t know how you can look around and see everything that’s still happening. The- all the lies that we were told. Like, just like take George Washington, and the myths about him having wooden teeth, and then you find out like, Oh, actually, those, he got those dentures made out of teeth from his enslaved people, you know, and, like, the lies that we were told all throughout our lives, about, you know, what this country was built on, how we were founded, what our motivations were. Growing up thinking, we were the good guy and realizing the whole time like no, we were the bad guy. We were the bad guy, the selfish one. The one who was constantly looking for ways to gain for selfish reasons and everything else and realizing that it’s like how I don’t know how to spend my life doing anything less than trying to at least neutralize some of that harm and pull it back out of I don’t want to contribute to it for sure. But anything I can do to not necessarily undo but helped heal or make right, some of those issues. Like, I don’t know how else to be.
Yeah, yeah. Well, man. why am I still in this? Wow. I think it goes along the same lines as like, now that I know everything I can’t really, even when I want to stop I, I seem to not like be able to. The thing that I’ve realized the most this year is how embedded, you know, white supremacy is in all of us, not just white people, like I feel literally unsafe around Black people. Like right now I’m in the process of looking for a therapist, another therapist, and I’m trying to find an anti racist therapist, like, I know a lot of Black people are looking for specifically Black therapists right now, because I was one who I always had white therapists too. And I understand the need for it. But for me, anti racism is different than just, it’s just different. And even if you’re Black, you could not be anti racist. Right. And so for me, like, trying to find a therapist that is anti racist is very difficult, I would rather have a white, anti racist therapist, than a Black therapist that doesn’t understand what white supremacy is, and systemic racism, and anti racism. And that probably sounds horrifying to maybe some people. But the amount of the amount, the things that people will do to avoid being uncomfortable, I think has really shocked me in a way that like, it’s, it’s almost like a mission of mine to help people be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You know, because I think that it’s important. I feel like we’re never really going to heal as a society with systemic racism, if we don’t learn how to be okay with realizing we contribute to it daily. I contribute to it daily. It just the idea that I’m 43 and did not know what Juneteenth was until last year. That is a lot of guilt and shame that is in my heart that I have to be very compassionate with myself about. And in order for us to truly make change and not just put band aids on shit, we have to get down to the nitty gritty and love ourselves through knowing that we’re causing harm and be okay with it. So that’s why, that’s why I’m still here.
Yeah, and, you know, I’ve noticed in my timeline, there’s several Black pe- Black friends that I have, they’re like, Yeah, I just learned about it last year. And why is that? And it’s because white supremacy is so embedded in our culture, our education system, and the way that we set everything up, like white kids were lied to. And, you know, I’m sure a lot of white parents were just happy to go along with that. But also, a lot of this information wasn’t available in a widespread way. I’m sure there’s a lot more Black folks in Texas, that were very aware of it, you know, because it’s kind of a local thing that you know, it happened, or was centralized in Texas. But that education and those facts were hidden. On purpose. And maybe you can talk just a little bit, and you don’t have to go into it if you don’t want to. But like when you talk about maybe how Black folks or like the Black therapists you’re talking about, maybe feed into white supremacy or where you feel that or like, what’s the pushback is and what’s the benefit of a just somebody who’s focusing on anti racism, versus just having a Black therapist who’s maybe not talking about anti racism or something like that?
Yeah, I think the difference is, I think the difference and someone who is actively trying to be anti racist is that I feel like it opens up your level of consciousness to understand that white supremacy affects all marginalized people. And we all like, especially with Black people, and like homophobia. And Black people have this thing where especially older Black people, they have this thing where I’m old, I don’t have to do anything different. And so I just I think it’s just really because because I’m, I’m offended by Black people all the time, the whole, the Bible says this, the Bible says that that is a that is a total activative trigger for me. And I think that there’s a lot of Black people that are in that thing where I’m doing what Jesus wants us to do. And that is white supremacy. And it’s embedded in me. And when you’re talking about like, You know it’s not really our fault, because it’s, you know, the school systems, you know, didn’t, you know, didn’t provide that information. I’m not blaming the school system, for my personal lack of knowledge, I’m getting laid out on the table that I, how I wish other people would. I didn’t need to know. I didn’t need to know the struggle. I don’t know, I don’t want to act like I was some spoiled rich kid, because I definitely wasn’t. At all. I didn’t have the new like Nikes and all the new crap like that, but I never had to worry about anything. And I, I got used to being in white spaces. And knowing about my history just wasn’t a thing, too. It just wasn’t a thing. And even when I got older, it wasn’t something that I was like, Hmm, I should maybe dig into this more I never even attempted to because of my privilege of not needing to care. And so I just want to really own that. Like, it’s not my parents fault, because they didn’t introduce me or elaborate. They showed me. They taught me to have a thicker skin when it came to ignorance of white people, being in an all white town, but no one ever sat me down and said, this is our, like deep, deep history, other than watching like Roots and different movies, I would watch, you know, like that. But I 100% take ownership in the fact that I was I was comfortable and privileged and didn’t feel like I needed to know that information. I just didn’t think I needed to know. So I just want to own that. But there’s a huge difference between being not racist. And being anti racist. And the huge, the biggest difference for me is that when you are anti racist, and you hear and see harm being done to a marginalized, human, you speak up. Now, does that mean you yell, you have to yell and scream? No, but you say something, and I need whoever I’m talking to about this stuff, to understand what anti racism is. So that I feel… Because when you when you’re anti racist, and you’re talking to someone who’s not anti racist, don’t you feel like you’re in a whole nother world? Like, it makes you feel like you’re on another planet?
Yeah, I mean, it’s so hard to unsee all the things that we’ve learned, you know, and like, that’s clearly, you know, motiv- You know, like, these problems over here are clearly because, like, oh, Black fathers aren’t in the home. Yeah, cuz we incarcerate them all, for nothing. Like, that’s not, you know, that’s not a problem with Black men. That’s a problem with our whole system that incarcerates Black men, and you know, does all this, and then all, we were gonna blame Black moms too, because where are their, where are their baby daddies? They’re incarcerated because we threw them in prison over, you know, weed, or something like that, where it’s like, well, first of all, weed shouldn’t even be illegal. But then second of all, how many white guys, you know, have done way worse or trafficked cocaine or something, and then we’re not even like, Well, you know, slap on the wrist, because, you know, they’re a good swimmer or something. It’s like, he’s good at sports. So we want to, he’s a good person. So we want to get him back on with community. We don’t want them to be incarcerated. Like, why do Black men not get that same level of love and care and grace, like, and so then when you talk to people who are, like, haven’t even really started on that, but they just think that they’re not racist.You guys, like, this is really obvious. *laughs*
In the beginning of our, you know, our work together, I remember, I was still in the phase of like, Oh, I don’t want to, um, abolishing the police? mmm
And I remember, like, something would happen and I, you’d say something and I’d be like, oh, but the police officer and you were like, really, like not yelling at me. But just like, you don’t see what’s going. And I’m like, I don’t get it. But again, I wasn’t at your level. I wasn’t in the trenches, like you are. I wasn’t studying as deep as you are, you know, as you were at the time. So once you begin to realize what’s actually happening, and you be like, I knew that that that that the police bureaus or whatever I knew they had lots and lots of money. But I didn’t understand like the system of how policing is done and how much money that is, is given to the police. It’s so that when they fuck up, they can pay off the people that they either kill, their families. It’s like, Here you go, we just killed your family member, but here’s some money. Okay, goodbye. And we get no consequences for it whatsoever. Because we’re saved. We have immunity, we can do whatever the fuck we want. Um, so yeah, it’s wild.
Yeah, I mean, and briefly, like, as far as I can’t remember what it’s called off the top of my head right now. Civil Asset Forfeiture, like, the cops steal so much shit from people, like, they’re just like, oh, that’s, that’s part of the commission of a crime, we’re just going to take that and what happens to all that stuff, it gets put in their funds so that they can pay that stuff off. Like, when they mess up and murder somebody, they don’t pay for that out of like their pension fund, or any of the stuff that would go like that would actually hurt them. They pay it out of like public funds that have nothing to do with them. It never reduces police funding. Ever. What other industry does that is?
wild. Like it’s wild.
Yeah, and yeah, the whole story, which we had planned to do a big series on, like the history of policing, which we’ll do. But just like the getting into the history of policing, and, you know, it’s funny, because people will be like, well, that’s just where policing started, but it’s not there now, but then they’ll be like, Well, our country was founded on this stuff. And it’s like, but we’re not there now. So it either it matters where something was founded, or it doesn’t. And they always want to play the game of whenever it benefits them, then, you know, we’re gonna go by these rules, and then we’ll just change them when it doesn’t benefit us anymore. And that’s white privilege. But also white privilege, or just privilege in general is me being able to do all that research, and have the time and energy and the resources to do a lot of the research that I have. And so, you know, I’ve tried to, if I have time to do stuff, and I want to be able to learn something, I can’t always go on the frontlines. And like last night, when all the proud boys were at Clackamette Park, spraying bear spray all over the place, and we’ll get into that. But, you know, I didn’t, I don’t have a gas mask, and I don’t have a protective equipment. I also, you know, if something is some of these more dangerous or questionably legal events that happen, a lot of those I can’t go to because I, as much as I would love to be able to say, Yeah, I put everything on the line. Like, I still have a family and everything else that I have to balance, the activism and the danger and everything else. So I, you know, spending time, that is something that people will maybe if you’re listening, if you have the time and resources to really dig into and dive into learning about the stuff, you should do so because that knowledge is super valuable. And not everybody has time to do that, or the energy or the ability to focus on those things. And so, you know, that is a really important area of activism.
Activism doesn’t have to be doing things the way you see like Rayah and i doing them. There’s all different ways and I’m one two, that I don’t go to protest or to, to actions that are late at night that I know that there’s going to be, you know, guns and proud boys and I don’t purposely put myself in those situations I choose not to I don’t have kids, but I don’t want to deal with that I don’t. But I choose to do it in other ways, or do do my activism or ways it can be like Rayah said, learning in the information and even if you don’t post it on your social media, share it with your family, your closest circle, you know, just you do the information first. And I that’s another that’s another huge thing that I want to really share with people that you, you- It’s really not healthy for you to try to do any type of activism work or anti racism work. If you’re not doing this work number one for yourself and doing the work within you first. You cannot just be like yeah, I’m an ally. I’m this and I’m that and not really be doing the internal work and sharing the information because it looks like to other people, you’re, you’re knowledgeable and you’re aware, right? because you’re sharing all this information. But the kicker is once- at least for me, once I get to know you and feel you in your actual space. I’m going to know, Imma know if it’s bullshit or not, if you’re acting like you’re an activist, and you’re acting like you’re so woke, but you’re really not doing the inner work, it’s going to show and someone who was truly an activist or truly doing the work and anti racism. This is not a lollipop, ha ha, ha, this is gonna be so fun. This is so great, no, you’re going to be mad, you’re going to be pissed, you’re going to be depressed, you’re going to be all jacked. So if you’re claiming to do this work, and you’re rainbow and sunshine every day, then you’re not doing the work internally. So that’s a huge thing, for me, in fact, is why I chose to leave a huge part of my life behind. Because you can you can, you can have all the knowledge in the world. But if you’re not actively doing the inner work, and making yourself ex- extremely uncomfortable, you’re faking it. And that’s worse than not doing anything to, in my opinion, especially when you label or act like you’re anti racist. Cuz you are causing, you can cause extremes amount of harm, if you’re even dipping your toe into anti racism work and not understanding what it means, and not understanding how to do the work internally first. Just thought I’d say that.
Yeah, no, I think that’s really important. You know, it’s, it’s easy, and way more comfortable to read a book and externalize what you’re seeing and be like, Oh, yeah, I see all those systems, I see all that and not to internalize the fact that, yeah, all those systems and I was raised in that system. And that means I have shit I need to look at. And every time I have a thought about something, I should be curious about that, like, where does that come from? Hang on a second. Where did I get that from? Where did I come up with that idea? Why do I feel that way when certain people walk in the room or when certain topics are brought up? Like what’s going on in here? And yeah, sometimes you’re overwhelmed with shame, or guilt or anything else. And you know, some of us have made really horrific mistakes in the past, and we maybe have a big reason to feel guilty or ashamed. But if we want the world to change, or we want to do something about the harms that were caused, we have to say, okay, that happened. Now, what? Now, what do I do with that? How can I take this and make it into something that, you know, it wasn’t in vain? You know, or that at least I can go on and say, all right, well, that was really fucked up. And now I need to make, you know, I need to either do the more research to figure out what happened there, or I need to just do a lot of internal work to figure out like, how do I deal with a shame without lashing out or without getting, you know, angry, or like, frustrated in the wrong spot, or whatever. And I think it’s so, so important. And I’m really glad that you brought that up, you know, and that’s the other piece of activism, right. And I was gonna talk about this at the end, but we can talk about it now, too, because maybe we’ll throw a break in there or something. But part of what you do, and like, I don’t think that Black people should have to be on the frontlines, you know, like, white people caused this harm. White people set this system up, white people are mainly the ones in control of this and it’s mainly a white person saying that we have to fuckin fix. But part of the activism that you do that is so important and So vital, is between your training with mindfulness and meditation, the death doula training, your anti racism training, and just who you are, and all of the things that you’ve lived, I think as a Black queer woman, that has also greatly informed your ability to see and recognize harm and pain, and then to formulate a loving and healing response, like you. You’re just an incredible person when it comes to that. But what you do is as a mindfulness meditation coach, and then as someone who is also a healer is you’re pouring that back out into all of these different activists who have been working so hard in the community, and they’re exhausted, and they’re traumatized, and they’re scared and they feel alone. And you have and it’s really cool, because I really started to see some white people step up and start to like, sponsor you for this work. So you can do it for free for people, which is the goal and if you want to help Amira do this work, please, please. We’ll put in a thing about all her ways to support and like all her website and stuff, but you can, like that’s part of reparations, right is to pay Black people and to pay and to put stability and wealth back into the Black community because it’s been stolen. And the work that you’re doing. I mean, just your Sunday night meditations that are free for people to free as a response, and then overwhelmingly like, Oh my god, I needed that so much. And like, it’s been so life giving to people. And I’ve seen the post about how I’m working with Amira. And she’s amazing, you know, and these are activists who are out there doing the work, and they need that what you’re putting out there. And that is an incredibly important form of activism that is not even on the frontlines. You don’t have to even leave your house hardly. In order, like, I’m sure you want to be, personally, but like, you don’t have to be on the frontlines at protests to do this. You’re doing this. Right, exactly. And like, that’s the thing, right? Like, you need to find what form of activism that you really are good at, and that you can shine. And you know, if you’re physically disabled, please don’t go to a protest and be on the front line and get gas and stuff like that. If yo- I mean, there are some people who are wheelchairs who do it. And that’s awesome. I feel like for the most part, a lot of people like, that’s going to be really hard for them.
And don’t feel like you need to do that if you’re physically disabled or, and you don’t think that that’s your cup of tea, like don’t go do that. You don’t have to. There’s all sorts of roles. And I’m freaking proud of you doing what you’re doing right now. And this form of activism is so vital and needed.
Yeah, I just, man, something happened because you guys remember last year, when I moved to Salem, I was terrified. I was terrified to leave my house. I was terrified to leave, I wouldn’t leave after dark. I was thinking about getting a gun, which I still am. I’ve gotten self defense classes, I have a knife. I like all the things right. I don’t know what happened. But I just like, out of I feels like out of nowhere, the community of Salem. I mean, just, there’s just so much community here that just have wrapped their arms around me. And being being around all these activists, what I realized, I started to realize it’s like, these people aren’t stopping, they are going hard. Every single night, they’re going hard still. And something that I realized is that we can’t keep our stamina, if we are not taking care of our heart. And I just something just was like you know what Amira, you need to let them know. So if there’s an activist or marginalized human that wants to have a better relationship with their mind and their heart so that they can get through this shit. That is so depressing and difficult. I am willing to do that. And the only thing that I that I’ve asked is don’t waste my time. Commit to me three months. And I remember like three weeks ago, when I was sharing from my heart, like to this woman I just met in, in Salem, we had a little coffee date. And I was just like, I wasn’t bawling crying, but I was just like this is I’m called to do this. I love getting paid for my work, obviously. But I have to do this. I’m just called to do it. And she was like, how much is your three month program? And I told her and she said, I’m writing a check to sponsor you. And I was like, Oh my god, what? where? Yeah. So I appreciate you for even touching on that. I’m not doing this piece of it for for recognition or for the money. But it it’s, it’s definitely I’m grateful for it and open to receiving so if you do have the funds if you want to help support me, and that’s another thing a year ago, I would never be like, yeah, support me, I’d be like.. because I remember a few times, right? It would be like you should, you know, ask, ask for support. You shouldn’t like no, that’s weird. That’s like no, and now I’m like, yep, yep, go ahead. You can definitely be paying me for my time and services. But yes, thanks Rayah.
Yeah, well it’s big emotional labor and it is like… especially in our country, right? Like we’re built on capitalism and like, all everything is like built on producing a product or having something to show for your work or whatever, but like, so any type of healing or nurturing work, especially if it’s like related to like motherhood or like the housewife thing. They don’t want to pay it. No one wants to pay for that kind of stuff or pay anything decent. And so it is very important for people to start really valuing the type of work that you do. And, you know, especially you in particular because you’re incredible and you’re my best friend. But you know, like that is emotional labor is real labor. And it is really, really important and that healing work and stuff that you’re doing, People need it. And if we’re going to keep this movement going, there’s been so much trauma that has happened to all these people you know, not the before the protests, as we’ve watched all of these different, you know, people being murdered since the protests started, as we have, you know, not you and I have not, I don’t think been tear gassed. But like, as people have been tear gassed, and finding out Oh, that’s affecting my fertility, and, you know, all of these different things, there’s so much trauma, and there’s such a need for exactly what you’re doing. And I think the death doula was such a such a great part of your training, too, you know, not very many people have even heard of a death doula. But Americans, by and large, especially white Americans, we don’t know how to grieve. We don’t know how to deal with this. And so there’s not a lot of talk or space for dealing with death or loss and stuff like that. And so, yeah, I just think your skill set and your experience is so valuable and vital to like, the work that’s being done right now. And if we want to sustain it, we have to have people like you. And we have to, like, take care of you and make sure you can keep doing what you’re doing. If we want to, you know, keep that movement going.
Yeah, yeah. And I just want to touch base really quick to just so that everyone is clear, when you have had a lot of trauma in your life. And you’ve never ever, ever dealt with it with a therapist or professional. There’s some situations where I’m 100% comfortable, like I got this, right, I feel like I’m fine. But there are times where I’m like, you know what, in the future, if you ever are able to get a trauma therapist and add me into it, that would be perfect. And I’m really comfortable with letting people know what I can handle what I can’t, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a psychotherapist, I’m a mindset and intention coach, mindfulness coach. So I’m very comfortable with saying this is out of my skill set. And I’m also very comfortable sitting in discomfort with people. And I take good care of myself. So I just want to put that out there since we we did talk about that. But I also wanted to touch really quick on something that’s been huge for me in the last year is systems working and establishments where they don’t recognize systemically what what this is, this is something that I’m I do struggle with, I am struggling with. I just quit my church job without a backup, right I financial backup other than my business, which I have a little bit of income coming in from that, but not much. I’m also getting kicked off Social Security now in the next couple months. So the fear I have number one, my old pattern of behavior is when I get when I need to leave a job, I already have something lined up, that has always been my thing. If I’m leaving something, I always have to have something lined up. I left my church job with no backup. It was it was spur of the moment, it was a gut reaction that I needed to do for my soul. But I had no backup. And so in this process the last three weeks or so trying to make myself not do the old the natural pattern of Oh, I gotta find something. At first, when I first quit. I was applying for I was starting to apply for like, you know, like either a state job or, you know, the things that I could easily get back into, right. And then after doing two applications and redoing my resume, I was like, You know what, I’m not doing this. Because this is the thing. Even if I know someone who works at an agency that is Black, it doesn’t mean that systemically that company understands what the systemic racism is. And I refuse to work in any more establishments where I have to change who I am. Right? The job I had for 10 years that I talked about all the time that I had in Tri-Cities Washington by the time I left that place after almost 10 years, I changed my facial expression, the tone of my voice. I was constantly being told I’m mean, And even outside of work. I was const- Oh, you’re harsh. Oh, you’re this Oh, you’re that. From Black and white people. And I just refuse. I just simply refuse to allow myself to be in any establishment, church, system. I don’t care if you’re paying me $50 an hour. If you do not understand systemically on a systemic level. What the fuck this shit really is. I’m not fucking with you. And that is a hard thing, when you are used to having stability financially and having a job and having that, it’s very difficult. And even even people that work in when you’ve been doing this work and you, when you realize like, Oh my god, I’m a part of this ew. You’re like, ew like whether it be working on a financial situation at a bank or whatever you realize, really? Oh that’s capitalism. Oh my God, that’s no, you just you just start to see all the things. And so it does make it hard because it feels like you’re just being a stickler and you’re just being so rigid and anal, and that’s what it feels like, kind of, but it’s like, no, I cannot do it anymore. So it’s very tricky. It’s not simple. Just wanted to say that.
Yeah, totally. And that’s important for people to understand. And then, you know, the more jobs you go to that have caused you harm, the more trauma you have over the next place, having the safety, whether or not the next place is going to be safe. And the reality is, most places are not safe.
And the reality is for me as a Black woman, most Black people are not safe either. So I’m fucking struggling. I’m struggling in a way that is so odd. It’s like it’s so it’s, it’s. It’s wild.
Yeah. Okay. So we were going to talk about this last year and kind of what’s happened and like kind of updating what’s been happening in Minneapolis too. Portland, I feel like it’s a lot of the press and a lot of like, what’s happening in Portland now, an anarchist in Portland, what are they? doing burning it down. which, you know, is really great for like the politics and the news and like, the narratives that they want to spin, but we need to shine a light back on, you know, Minneapolis, and what’s happening, still there, and the broader context and everything so, and what a lot of people don’t realize, so it wasn’t just George Floyd that was murdered a year ago. We have so there was a whole string of Minneapolis area killings. In the last couple years, we have Jamar Clark, Philando Castiel, George Floyd, Dolal Id and Dante Wright. And then most recently, we had Winston Smith Jr, who was a 32 year old man who is a father, musician, brother, son and friend and he was murdered by the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Sheriff’s officers who were working with the US Marshals in the North Star fugitive Task Force. And that was just on June 3 of 2021. But initially, the news report just went off from the police report, which you cannot do because cops lie. Repeatedly. I mean, just George Floyd, you know, initial reports based on what the cop said versus what actually happened in the video. But like Winston Smith had just posted, you know, Snapchat, he was having lunch, he’s having a date, you know, this one restaurant. And then he was cornered by undercover law enforcement officers and unmarked cars, where he and a woman had returned to his vehicle, the top of a parking ramp, like parking garage in Uptown Minneapolis. And so the US Marshals claim that he fails to comply and produce a handgun, resulting in task force members firing upon him. But the woman that he was with said that she said she a gun on him. She never saw a gun inside the vehicle at any time. And, you know, you look at the pictures of the scene and stuff. It’s like, even if he had had a gun, like, I don’t think he had a gun because they lie. But it was an isolated area. Like I don’t know why they just decided that they were gonna fire on him and, and murder him. But that’s because a lot of activists, especially in the Minneapolis area, think that he was assassinated, and it’s kind of freaking seems like that, you know, this would not be the first time that that federal law enforcement or local law enforcement has assassinated activists.
So he was an activist? You know that for sure?
As far as you know, yeah. And so, and he had posted videos kind of recently about, like, his stance, like, I don’t know why you guys this is, this can’t just stay peaceful, like they’re not going to give us what we want. We need to have more muscle behind what we’re trying to do. So
Isn’t that the one where the picture there was like five cars around like five unmarked cars around the vehicle when it happened? Yeah, just didn’t make sense. And he was at a bar with a with a friend like it just it just doesn’t make sense.
Yeah, he’s like they’re saying he’s a murder fugitive. That’s what they initially reported is like if you’re on the run, and a fugitive from murder, like, you wouldn’t be like posting snapchats and Instagram stuff and like going out on the town and stuff like that. You’d be like, probably hiding. I don’t know.
people’s comments to things like this are still very like, Oh, well, he was bad. Oh, he was this.
And even if he was a murder suspect like that it suspect, innocent until proven guilty. And, you know, law enforcement is not supposed to just go murder people because they’re not either not complying or not, or like they break a law or something like that there’s supposed to be a trial by jury. You know, they’re supposed to be a whole due process. Law enforcement is not just supposed to go kill people. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. And then also, they’re saying that there is no.. So the bureau bureau of criminal apprehension, which is leading the investigation. So they’re not aware of any video footage of the shooting, and said that the US Marshal service does not allow body cameras for officers on this task force. However, I dug up a statement from the Justice Department on October 29 2020, the DOJ released a statement, titled The Department of Justice announces the use of body worn cameras on federal task forces, so October 29, last year, they started allowing body worn cameras to be worn on all these different task forces. So let’s see. And so there may be a delay, because like the if a lot of agencies started applying for it, it might be hard to get the equipment out to them and stuff like that in a timely manner. But they all started allowing this in October of last year. So the whole idea that they weren’t allowed to, is garbage. And people are buying that, you know, it’s like they turn their cameras off all the time.
Yeah. So So this murder happened, right? cop kill him. And the activists take the street again, of course. And they had painted this section of the parking garage area or the sidewalk, they painted it red, the alley with the message “blood on their hands”. And there’s like been this war back and forth of the city trying to remove it or get rid of it. And then the activists repainting it. And then like the most recent one, was that they washed it off and painted the alley in rainbow colors, which is like the grossest rainbow washing ever. The city, the city. the city. Yeah. took that away and repainted over it with rainbow, which is totally remote washing. It’s super gross. Because, you know,
it’s like, it’s Pride Month. So people aren’t going to erase this. It’s Pride Month. So let’s cover let’s again cover up what’s really happening with more bullshit, which is not okay.
Exactly, exactly. And then, so then Winston was murder, right, and so of course, people are on the streets protesting. And then so he was murdered on I think it would have I say, June 3. And then so on June 13, there was a group of activists that had gathered to mourn and protest. And so Deona Marie was working the role of a Corker, which is what we call the cars and bikes and people who kind of surround the protests on the front, the back and the side to help walk from car attack, and from people like infiltrating and being violent. And so at 11:40pm in Uptown right around the area where Winston was murdered. A white man sped into the protest at speeds that witnesses are estimated at like at least 80 miles an hour. And she was mortally wounded and street medics were able to resuscitate her but she later died from her injuries. And there were at least two other people that were injured by the crash. I think one of them was a street medic and who got his leg broken, or their leg broken. And then the driver who sped into the crowd and killed her was this man named Nicholas Kraus and he has a long history with having 17 years of like DWI, unsafe driving, assault like bad stuff he ne- he never should have had a license and he didn’t have a license. He was unlicensed.
I did not know, that piece at all.
yeah, it’s like, but again, right, the systemic thing where we give white people the benefit of the doubt or the pass or whatever, it’s like this guy never should have been able to drive at all.
And didn’t they just make it legal for people to drive through crowds?
Yeah, so there’s several states that are considering or they’ve already adopted laws that protect the people who drive in protest. So Oklahoma, we have Hb 1674, which says a driver who, quote, unintentionally causes injury or death while exercising, quote, due care will not be criminally or civilly liable if they reasonably believe they’re fleeing from a riot, where they will be harmed. obstruction of a public street highway or road will now constitute a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail and fees as high as $5,000. Anyone who commits the offense will be liable for damages. So at the same time, that we’re allowing people to drive into crowds, or you know, which seems like the language like unintentionally causes, and they have due care, and they reasonably believe they’re fleeing from a riot, which is like, a lot of the language that lets cops off the hook for everything because they’re like, well, I feared for my life! all you have to do is take your for your life. But at the same time that we’re protecting those drivers that do that, we’re starting to also enact laws that make it illegal to be in the road or to like really exercise your first amendment rights and things like that. Looks like we’re getting hit on both ends. Yeah. And, you know, Winston sounds like an amazing person. And I have no idea he probably not perfect because I mean, most people aren’t. But he sounds like an amazing guy, I watched a bunch of his like videos, and tik toks and stuff er- not tik toks. But on Instagram. super funny and really thoughtful and everything. And you know, Deona Marie had just celebrated her 32nd birthday, she was just celebrating one year sober. When she was killed, and it’s like, what people don’t understand. And you’ll see comment after comment after comment in, in – on these news articles. It’s like, Oh, they should get a job. What are they doing? It’s like, we are good people. Whether or not I mean, whether or not we have jobs or not, like we’re good people that are trying to be out there because we see a harm being caused. And we’re trying to do something about that harm. We’re not just little kids who are out there. Like, I just want to break shit, you know? And are there some is that some of that happening? Yeah, I’m sure that there’s some of that happening. There’s also activists who are older and wiser and Black and Indigenous, that do break things on purpose, because they think that that is the right way to protest. And that is, you know, like, they always think that oh, this is not thought out. Or this is not this is just, you know, being that’s how they’re choosing to demonstrate that I’ve had enough of this. No more and I’m going to break your shit until you do something about it.
and that valid
Even even the the the the, the the verdict of that dick. Yeah, even the verdict of that that would not have happened. I guaran fucking tee you that would not have happened. If the world wasn’t doing what they’ve been doing for a fucking solid year. I guarantee you that would have been a dismissed freaking case. The reason why he was convicted is because of the fucking world saying Enough is enough. That is why I feel, we had a guilty verdict.
Oh, I agree. Cuz how many of these cases year after year, every time something happens, It’s always a while, you know, the cop was justified. They thought they were in danger. And it’s like the cops shouldnt have even been there or the cop should have like, let it go. Or why is the cop getting all upset? You know?
And then within an hour, right, it was within an hour of the verdict. Oh my gosh, that young girl
Ma’Khia Bryant I think
Yeah, yeah, yes. Cuz you did a beautiful art piece.
Oh, yeah. It was within an hour. She was murdered. You know, and then you have every, all these white people think well, you know, she had a knife. It’s like Yeah, okay. And?
this story and correct me if I’m missing details Rayah, this story, this was a 16 year old girl in a foster home. Correct? There were several. She is the one that called the cops because she was being harassed right by a couple of other girls. And finally, by the time the cops got there, she had a knife, and she was approaching the girls. But the cop that got out of the car, it was an immediate if you saw the video, it was like, wow, like, Okay, stop, bam, like she was shot in the chest. Like, within seconds, she had no time to react or even listen or do anything. You just killed the baby. And yes, she may have had a knife, but she didn’t deserve to be shot in her chest and killed, like, you just killed a child. And again, the comments that I’ve heard or seen from other people, they’re, they’re horrible. Like she.. its just the fact that police are allowed to shoot first. Even if they’re not even in a threat, even if there’s a way to de escalate the situation, they shoot first. Even the young child, who I believe was from Chicago. I think he was Hispanic, maybe 14 years old. And I apologize. These are just popping up in my head. I don’t have the name right now. But even he..
Yes, thank you Rayah. That that video just it devastated me too. And let me just say this, but watching videos and watching this stuff. Some people shouldn’t shouldn’t watch this stuff, right? It’s it’s very emotionally taxing and depressing. And I’m not suggesting that people go watch them. But what I am saying is from when I watched it, even that, this beautiful young child had both of his hands up, both of his hands up. And he was had no warning and was shot. And even though because I remember doing a post about it, even though immediately after the cop shot him, you could hear and feel and see the regret from the cop. I can you could see him pacing back and forth. Um, I just I felt his regret. I saw it because he was like, come on, buddy. Come on, buddy. Stay with me. You shot the kid in the chest. What the fuck you expect? You know what I mean? But it doesn’t. Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean you have a right to just shoot someone dead. And that is the thing with Yeah, go ahead.
Oh, no, I totally agree. And, you know, it’s like, okay, so if, if he’s really feeling guilty and feels like that was something that he fucked up on. Why did he allow the story that he was armed? Because the initial story that came out about Adam Toledo was the kid was armed or the kid had a gun or whatever. Okay. So if that’s not true, then if you as the officer are actually a good person and actually did not mean that and actually want to be a good cop. Why didnt you tell the truth? Fuck the consequences. Tell the truth. Oh, yeah.
It did appear that the gun was on the other side of the fence on the ground, perhaps I think I saw it there, but it still wasn’t in his hand. It was not in his hand. Both of his hands are up clear. And again, like you just said the cop could have said he did not have a gun in his hand when I shot him. Can you imagine the power in that and that in itself would would start to gain trust back in, I feel, in law enforcement. If they would go on and say, You know what? I did fuck up. I did shoot. And this kid had nothing in his hands. I would a little bit be like, you know what? Maybe there’s a tiny bit, but that’s not gonna happen.
Yeah, it’s. And we have this, like, he was a 14 year old kid. Ma’Khia was 16. And we have these situations we have what people are, what they’re doing to the mentally ill, you know, 25% of people who are killed by the police are in some form of mental health crisis. You know, it’s like, I’m reading their training, especially the one for the Portland Police. And it’s like, well, suicide really is just self murder. And the only difference between the you know, murder and suicide is where they’re pointing the gun. It’s like, that’s written by someone who’s clearly never been suicidal. Because when I’ve been suicidal, I’ve never been like, well Im shooting me or somebody else. like, I don’t know, I guess me. I’m the only one available so me. like No, that’s not what is happening at all. So it’s just, it’s like, especially white people wanna look for any excuse that we can come up with so that we can leave the leave the systems in place that are there because we are scared of what it would look like if we didn’t have those systems. Like we have no idea what it can even look like in a different way. And we’re not even willing to look and examine and see what that might be like, because we’re too scared, like, what are you gonna do if you get it raped? Well, the cops, like why dont you go look at the statistics of cops solving rapes, and what the process is like to actually go through the rape kit, and go through the process of trying to press charges or tell the cops, which is for many victims have said that is just as traumatizing as the actual rape itself. And, you know, so it’s kinda useless in that. Burglaries? they show up after the fact. the- the solve rate on these things is astronomically low. But we’re not being honest about those statistics. Like we have to reimagine what, you know, communities could even look like outside of this. And it’s hard, it is really hard, because we’ve only seen one thing happen. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. You know, the one thing I want to go back to before because I know we are going to end up running low on time, because we have the Juneteenth events that we’re going to do later, Im so excited about. But when we were talking about this the other day, you wanted me to go over this. And that is a little bit of my experience back in, I think it was 2011, when Occupy Wall Street was really going hard. And there was lots of huge protests happening. And at that time, I worked downtown at a law firm, overlooking Pioneer Courthouse Square. And so I had a bird’s eye view of, you know, 10,000 people marching in the streets over Occupy Wall Street, and, you know, going hard against the banks and stuff like that. I remember trying to get to and from work. During this time I’m like, so frustrated, like, I don’t, I don’t get it. Like, why? like, Okay, you guys have a problem with something. But like, why, like, I get that you want to make these people and wake them up and like the politicians and like, the big wigs on the bank. But like, why do you have to inconvenience all us, like normal working people? And it’s like, because I needed to wake up too. like, part of the whole point of this is to disrupt, not just the big hire ups, but also the day to day people to get them paying attention to issues that are affecting and hurting people on a daily basis. And I did not get it then I did not wake up then. And I wish I would have cuz I could be like, yeah, I’ve been on this for a while. But I didn’t. I didn’t see it. I didn’t get it. I you know, I was really frustrated with that whole thing. And it took a while before I was like, oh, okay, yeah. So when people are blocking the streets instead of getting frustrated with them for blocking the streets and inconveniencing you, why don’t you ask yourself why they took their time out of their lives to go march on the streets. And as we’ve seen time and time again, like to see Deona Marie and then Summer Taylor, which is a protester who was also murdered by a car attack in Seattle. Like, we’re putting our actual lives on the line for this, why are we doing that? Why is that so important to us? Instead of asking or like being frustrated, we’re in your way. Ask yourself why we’re there. why it was so important to us to be there. And start examining that, you know, it’s really, really important to do that. Yeah. Thats the internal work right?
Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. It’s not easy to do this work. And I know every day especially, I use the word white supremacy so much. It’s always in the back of my mind, especially being in a very racist area. I could be shot at any moment. And I truly believe I say this all the time. Sander, my husband made fun of me the other day. He’s like, that’s your new favorite quote, because I’m always like, I don’t know how long we have. We can be gone tomorrow. I don’t know how long we have. I do not have the privilege, I used to feel, oh, I’m gonna get old. Like, it’s like, I’m definitely going to get old. Im gonna live til Im old. We do not have that privilege to know that we’re going to be able to be here. And so while I’m on this earth, I understand that it takes people being in the streets, it takes people spreading awareness, it takes people doing the things to make things happen.
Yes, power doesn’t really concede any of its power without you know, being forced to give it up and that’s part of what we’re doing, you know that there’s this quote that says, you know, the arc of the universe bends towards justice. But it doesn’t unless we literally pull it down and bend it towards justice. And that’s part of what we’re doing, you know. And again, people need to be doing it on the street. And then we have people like you and other people who are doing work behind the scenes or within the community, but like, maybe not on the front lines, that are also doing really vital and important work and all of that stuff is valuable. Like there’s a lot of people in the disability community who are behind the scenes they’re watching the videos are working comms, are trying to spread the information, they’re making the flyers, they’re, you know, making sure that things are accessible for people of all abilities. Like there’s so much work, you know, if you can’t be on the front line, being gassed, that is, okay, there is a different role for you. And we want you here, you know, you don’t have to be on the front lines, we’re still gonna want you to join the movement, we’re still gonna want you to be with us. Even if you can’t do those frontline things, and that’s okay.
And just please take care of your heart and your soul and your mind while you’re doing it. You have to go back to self compassion in this work. And we love y’all. And this is healing. Our podcast is healing. Just from today, right now. I’m like, why have we skipped so many months? This part of our healing bestie. And we- I’m just so honored and thankful that we have Advocate Activism.
Yeah, seriously, me too. It was super good. I think it’s sometimes it gets a little intimidating to like, sit down and be like, oh, how’s the conversation going to go? Not that we don’t- like we’re best friends, we can talk about anything. But then when you’re trying to edit it, you’re like, why did we talk about that? That’s off topic! That’s off topic.
It’s, it’s our first It’s our first time back after several months being gone. And I’m so happy.
Yeah. Im so excited
Lots to come. Yeah. And I love you.
I love you too. love y’all. And I hope that you guys can take the time to learn more about this stuff. But like Amira said, like being gentle with yourself, giving yourself that self compassion. And like, you know, there’s a lot of people that just weren’t like Black people that just learned about Juneteenth. You know, information was hidden from us, we couldn’t know what we didn’t know before. But now that we know we can do something about it. And so just take that and keep going.
Hey Everyone, I wanted to give the opportunity for those of you who would like to check out Amira and her mindfulness practice, Core Mind Gut Connection, where she helps folks and businesses with intention setting and mindfulness techniques that are individualized. Her website is intention mindset.com and you can set up a free intention setting session with her by going to intention mindset.com forward slash lets dash talk. If you would like to you can give towards a sponsorship for Amira’s work. Part of her mission is to assist marginalized folks with their mindset and stress to allow for more awareness of self compassion. Please feel free to contact Amira to give at core mind gut firstname.lastname@example.org. And finally, if you would like to join Amira’s weekly, Sunday night, just breathe and be as you are meditation hour, use the email address we mentioned earlier to be added to the zoom invite link. And that is completely free. Just come and be as you are.
Hey, y’all. So thanks for listening to another episode of Advocate Activism, where we talked about protesting what’s the use? you know, the last year has been so eye opening. It’s been so overwhelming and stressful and lots of anxiety, but it’s also been very beautiful. And what I’ve learned more than anything in this work, is being a community activist is a beautiful thing. And there’s nothing like being in a room full of people who care about all human beings. So thank you so much for joining us again. We’ve missed you so much, and until next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai