A Moment of Silence

Let us have a moment of silence for the unjustifiable treatment of our brothers and sisters who grow up living in a country that sets them up for failure, for violence, for anger.

Let us have a moment of silence for Oscar Grant, for Trayvon Martin, for Mike Brown, for Tamir Rice, and now for Eric Garner and Rumain Brisbon.

Let us have a moment of silence not just for the lives cut short, but for the potential these young men and boys had–their capacity to love and live and make this world better. For the millions who have been killed by the systematic, structural legacies of violence and oppression that weave their hatred into the vein of African American experience in this country. For the stifled dreams dwarfed by the magnitude of the odds stacked against them. For the internalized self-hatred which produces doubt, shame, and frustration and perpetuates itself through generations of suffering.

I mourn for them, but I also mourn for us. For with the death of these young men, with the institution of racism, bigotry, and militant police action, my expectations for a better world start to seem less realistic.

The idealist within me says to hold on, that change takes time and sustained will. The louder voice cries out, we’ve waited long enough. The wretched hatred that poisons this country does not dilute with time, but sticks like tar, forming a brick of resentment not easily removed.

I feel my sadness for the individuals grow to a rage against a system that perpetuates inequality and injustice.

Sadness is a paralytic. We mourn the disillusionment, because it takes from us the blinders of comfortable deceit and confronts us with uncomfortable truths. Faced with blatant disrespect for human life, the rude awakening is no longer disillusion but rather a destruction of our hope. It spits in the face of our trust in this judicial system, our naiveté. The paralytic begins to wear off with the adrenaline of anger at an unjust system where police brutality fueled by racist policies and mentalities is left unchecked. No indictments, no accountability. No justice, no peace.

I fear my anger may grow and continue to perpetuate the violence which it revolts against. My remaining hope rests in the dream that this momentum can become practical action, can transform into real change for the people who have been deprived of justice, can nudge the behemoth of society a little further toward a world which I want to live in.

Let us be silent no longer.

Alexandra McGee recently graduated with her MA from UC Berkeley and is a researcher for an international nonprofit working in Oakland. 
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