I had the honor of speaking at a Black Lives Matter march over a week ago. I am an elected councilwoman in my town and this was my largest audience, 1,500 people. This is my speech.
So, why are we marching during a pandemic? Over 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 and yet we have chosen to leave our homes and march….there must be a deeply compelling reason for us to do this. We have not gone to work, our children are engaging in remote learning, graduations have been postponed, and most businesses are closed. Yet, we are out in the streets and we are marching for Black lives. Black lives that make up 13% of our population.
How did we get here? While we were quarantined in our homes, we heard about the gruesome murders of three unarmed black people, Ahmed Arberry, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. We have recently heard about the murder of Tony McDade, a black trans man. While we want justice for these specific people, the black community is mourning, angry, and fearful. The outrage is spreading and we are binding together to fight the systematic racism that has been plaguing this country for 400 years. So, why are we marching?
- We march because Black women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
- We march because Black men receive longer sentences than white men for the same crimes
- We march because job applicants with traditionally Black sounding names are less likely to receive interviews than their white peers.
- We march because black home buyers are subject to more stringent requirements and discrimination than white people.
- We march because American schools are still segregated leading to deep, generational disparity in the black community.
- We march because Black children are suspended at a higher rate than white children for the same infractions.
- We march because of the racism and bias in medicine that stops black people from receiving high quality care when needed.
- We march because of the dramatic rise of white supremecist groups and the increase of hate crimes in this country.
- We march because Black people are more likely to be stopped by police than white people.
- We march because black babies in America are twice as likely to die before their first birthdays than white babies.
- We march because lynching is still not a federal crime in this country.
- We march because black lives matter.
Why does this data exist? Please research it yourself. Is it because black people are inferior, criminals, prone to illness, and deserving of the worst? We know that is not true. We understand that hundreds of years of racism that began with slavery, brutality, jim crow laws, mass incarceration, and so much more have brought us to this place. And now, we are here all together with a united understanding that black lives are just as important as other lives.
Please understand the power that you have to make this better. Please continue to march even when life goes back to normal and this pandemic is over. This is the beginning of a new civil rights movement. By standing here today, it shows that you care and I hope you will pledge to do whatever it takes to eliminate systemic racism in this country from this day forward. Thank you for marching for black lives.