One person has silently contributed to everything we’ve ever published on WISH Cleveland. His name is Tamir Rice.
In November 2014, when that twelve-year-old boy was shot and killed by a police officer just ten minutes from my children’s school, I watched his sister struggle to reach him as he died alone, while police officers stood around for several minutes, waiting for an emergency medical team and offering no first aid.
Back then, when large crowds gathered in downtown Cleveland to protest, I sat my sons down for the “white privilege” talk, a much easier conversation than the one parents of black sons are known for having with their children. I can still vividly recall the image that came to mind as I spoke. Aidan, my white twelve-year-old son, was standing in that park and thinking foolishly, for an instant, that hiding the toy gun was the best thing he could do as a police car rushed toward him, sirens blaring. Except, of course, I know in my heart that the outcome would have been much different if it had been Aidan.
In that moment, I promised myself I would never be silent about racial injustice again.
So here we are.
Nearly six years later and our country is literally and figuratively on fire. This past weekend, protests in Cleveland turned violent, and the city remains under curfew through the end of the week.
I am a non-violent protestor. My social justice convictions are based in faith and spirituality. I will choose love over hate, every single time. But I also believe this needed to happen. Systemic injustice has finally been elevated to a level that no one can ignore. Politicians and leaders who have never spoken out against racism are calling it by name — and it is our collective responsibility to insist there can be no return to business as usual.
At WISH Cleveland, we will continue to educate ourselves and our readers about the actions and perspectives that are central to building our new future together.
If we are silent, we are complicit.
Leaders in the racial justice movement encourage allies not to be fooled by “shows of cooperation” that look good on camera and appease a crowd. Instead, pay attention to local and state elections and laws. Notice who is (or is not) at the table when decisions are being made. And commit to building authentic relationships with groups and organizations that are doing the hard work of community organizing for equitable change.
I hope you will also join me in continued reading, learning, listening, and paying attention. There are moments in life when we are given a choice between our own comfort or the higher good of racial justice. Making the right choice in those moments can save lives. And I believe it is the only thing that will eventually save us all.
Want to learn more? WISH Cleveland and its publisher Good Cause Creative are offering a $95 stipend to those interested in participating in the groundwater Racial Equity and Inclusion workshop offered by ThirdSpace Action Lab. One person will be selected per month. The application form and upcoming dates are available here.
Below are some of the most popular stories we’ve published on WISH Cleveland related to racial justice. Please consider reading and sharing. If you would like to be a WISH Cleveland writer or have a story idea you’d like us to explore, please let us know.