The noon hour church bells fill the airwaves, a reminder that I have yet to write this column.
Typically when I write, my brain fills with words and sentences, floating around until I grasp onto one to expand. Today’s not much different. There are hundreds of words, thousands of sentences, yet, none of them seem right.
As I sit in front of a blank screen, cursor blinking impatiently at me, I stare outside my window. Those words, those sentences that have been flying around my brain since George Floyd’s death? They fly right out of the window. The only grasp I have now is on this third cup of coffee.
With jittery hands, primarily from the caffeine, but mostly from anger and uncertainty over how to write down what I want, I tried to write something.
But … the words don’t come. Everything I want to say has been said, much more eloquently. They’re words and sentences that have been floating for centuries. Words of racial injustice. Words of hope. Pleas for a better country. They’ve seemingly gone out the window, too.
My husband sometimes likes to joke with me and say, “You’re hearing me, but you’re not listening to me.” And that’s what this country seemingly has done.
Even though I believe the pen is mightier at the sword, sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes words and sentences aren’t enough. Sometimes they need to manifest into the physical realm. We’re seeing that now, rightfully so.
Because for hundreds of years, we have had numerous leaders fighting against racial injustice, slavery, brutality. And their words are powerful. They leave a mark in our lives. Their words can be found on motivational posters. We’re sharing their quotes on Facebook. We’re hearing them. Why aren’t we listening to them?
These are words that need to be listened to from civil rights leaders.
Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Dorothy Height: “Civil rights are civil rights. There are no persons who are not entitled to their civil rights.”
Angela Davis: “We have no intention of stopping this fight until we have eradicated every single remnant of racism in this country.”
Ella Baker: “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”
Some of these words are nearly 60 years old. They’ve been floating. These words have been important to listen then and still need to be listened to today. These sentences came with protests, with cries and pleas for racial justice.
Sixty years later, these words are still relevant. They will always be relevant until this country changes.
So for me to attempt to write something just didn’t seem right at the moment, when these words, these sentences and these movements, have said it all. And as a country, we have not listened.
And even though I’m considered a minority as a Mexican, I am not black. I do not understand what it’s like to be black. I don’t have even the slightest idea of what the day-to-day fear is for black Americans, much less a young black man.
But I do understand that what we need to do is listen. Not just hear the news, not just hearing the leaders, or hearing the riots. Listen.
Diana Rojo-Garcia can be reached at 507.344.6305 or firstname.lastname@example.org