By Jamie Kirk

Anyone that tells you they are entering 2021, the same way they entered 2020, can’t be trusted. Anyone that believes that this was just another year, SSDY (same shit different year), should have their pulse checked. The way that our world is shifting and moving is different than any of us has experienced and will likely experience in our lifetime. There is something in the air, the energy, the vibrations that just makes this one of the most personal and therapeutic years in modern times.  

When the horrific incident of George Floyd occurred on May 25th of this year, it was if the entire country, including every State in OUR country, for the first time in history, we all seemed in agreement that something was wrong. Beginning in Minneapolis, peaceful protests took on a life of their own to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality. As a collective group, we couldn’t put our fingers on it. We couldn’t journal about it. We didn’t know how to post on social media about it. We just knew it was wrong. And the events leading up to the George Floyd incident, like the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old black woman and EMT, shot eight times by police in Louisville, KY as she slept in her bed, the death of Tony McDade, a trans black man shot by police in Tallahassee, FL, days after Floyd’s death, and the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man out jogging who was killed by two white civilians, who took matters into their own hands were arrested months later (and only after video of the incident was disseminated publicly), the outrage was widespread.

And for one of the first times, in MOST cases, people did not need to play devil’s advocate with their neighbors, or their boss or watch a different news outlet to “get the other side.” In each of the cases above, one thing was blatantly clear; something is wrong. Something is wrong that THIS is still happening. When people are being severely mistreated because of their skin color. That’s it. This was not about “being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” “well, we need to see all of the video before we jump to conclusions,” or the most over-used excuse, “he/she was resisting arrest.” There is not a question about what happened or why it happened; it is 100% addressing and responding to THAT it happened.  

That is when all of the emotions began to run high. People generally knew how they wanted to handle this in the past. As a society, we allowed the media to drive the conversations. We would “like,” not comment, on social media posts, but now we were being called to take action. Taking action has come in so many ways. People have chosen to protest. People have chosen to volunteer for their local NAACP Chapter. People have decided to write heartfelt posts on social media. People have chosen to make videos. People have chosen to make signs, buttons, t-shirts, etc. The keyword in all of the above is that people made a CHOICE. When you decide to do something (e.g., make a change), you are doing the heavy lifting. Deciding that you have to do something is the uphill battle, the rest is just tenacity. In one singular swoop, our nation is making the CHOICE TO DECIDE. We are making our voice known, and denouncing and challenging people on what they have been taught growing up as children or maybe even as an adult. And in the spirit of challenging what we are looking to do, we have to take stock of what we have done. And unfortunately or fortunately, in many cases it was nothing.  

No action. No voice. No objections. And the worst of them all: NO opinion. But now, we admit that something is wrong and that we have to start off on the right side. Not on the side of black or white. American or Non-American. Not how you feel about gun control. Not about if your Governor is in charge of a Blue State or a Red State. Our responses of action are simply around voicing our concern and acknowledging our personal choices to seek change. In our ability to right the wrongs of our past in keeping silent, we don’t need to make a big deal about the past, but our efforts have to be around correcting the future. 

Change is hard. But change is easier when you feel aligned with others. There are so many people, famous and not, speaking up and asking for change. I purposefully did not use the word demand. Demand is a divisive term. Demanding means you have no wiggle wrong for anything different than what you desire to see change. When you use divisive language, you do the opposite of creating alignment. This is not the time to look for trouble, this is the time to look for people, places, and things that support what you support, believe in what you believe, and want to fight for the things you want to fight for.  

People from all walks of life are just plain emotional. That’s good and bad. Emotions are running so high right now. It’s a good thing. The emotions mean we are feeling something. This heightened feeling of watching the peaceful protesters makes many of us feel prideful. I know I do. I feel like people are finally “getting it.” People are realizing that not saying something is saying something. Being silent is hurtful. It’s damaging. It’s mean, and it’s unacceptable. It is our responsibility to stand up, say something, and to be heard. We need to realize we are our brother’s keeper. We should be held accountable for walking in our truth and challenging those around us to do the same.

It is perfectly normal to see things differently. It’s as if we have taken off our rose-colored glasses and stopped thinking under our breath, “racism, police brutality, and gender inequality doesn’t impact me.” Because we finally realized impacting one of us impacts all of us. We are finally able not to silence that voice that should be a conversation starter. We are in this together. We can’t allow divisive chatter to cause us to become unfocused in our attempts at unity. We have to have unity from here on out. We need to make sure we don’t let up. Giving up is not an option. 

There are times when you don’t know what to do; you do nothing. You remain still and wait for the answers to come to you. This is not one of those times.