Editorial Board Op-Ed by:
Eduardo Cepeda & Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo
On November 8, 2016 many went to bed frightened about the future. That familiar sentiment (now paired with righteous indignation) was there the night of May 28, 2020 when the now-president essentially gave the go-ahead to kill his constituents. But let’s be honest, for marginalized communities in the U.S., that fear and frustration is nothing new.
From the moment “settlers” like Columbus began terrorizing, murdering and exploiting indigenous people, to the gripping effects of chattel slavery—and later, slavery patrols which eventually formed into what we now know as the modern-day police force—people of color, and particularly Black Americans have lived in fear and disgust under the specter of white supremacy.
We know Donald Trump’s election in 2016 is not what led us to where we are today. His presidency is a byproduct of a nation founded on the loud assertion that “All men are created equal [as long as said man is a man, white and owns property].”
That is to say, of course, that white supremacy has never gone anywhere (as our community full-well knows). The only difference now is that we have a president who helped strip the disingenuous posturing of normalcy from racism. As Ta Nehisi-Coates once put it: “[Whereas Trump’s] forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.”
Make no mistake about it: “Make America Great Again” is dog whistle for “Destigmatize Racism.”
And it worked. His hateful rhetoric has further emboldened police departments across the country. So much so, that as Derek Chauvin watched himself be recorded, taking the air out of George Floyd’s lungs until he lay lifeless, he nonchalantly kept his hands in his pockets and showed no emotion. This wasn’t a rage killing, it was just another day at the office for white America.
That’s not to say that police haven’t been killing Black people for hundreds of years. Or that false accusations by white women, like Amy Cooper, haven’t caused these police departments to serve as weapons of white supremacy, going back to the days of Emmett Till and before.
But now, all pretenses have been thrown out the window.
In recent days, we have seen our communities rise up and tell those in power that we are fed up, and will no longer take it sitting down. As we watch cities burn at the hands of those who simply can not take one more unfair death, one more routine traffic stop turned to murder, one more state-sanctioned assassination at the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect, we can’t help but recall the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (who so many conveniently cite as a weather vane for peace): “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
Though now labeled an uprising due to the negative connotation the term”riot” has taken on over the years, the message is one and the same. The unheard are making their voices heard. Now is the time to truly stand together.
It’s time for cross-racial solidarity within the Latino community. It’s time to make it clear to those in power and anyone who is listening that no life matters until Black lives matter. It’s time to tear down and rebuild the power structures that have never served us. It’s time to take necessary action (with our bodies, spirits, minds and cash). And it’s time to have the necessary conversations that will provoke both intergenerational understanding and unity, as well as systemic change.
It’s at this crucial moment that we want to remind you that Remezcla is here; we support you and we will continue to serve as a space to spotlight our stories and perspectives, and most importantly, help serve as one small cog in a wheel towards change.