Last summer, I attended the Black Lives Matter Protest in Michigan City. I felt strongly that I needed to show up and show my support and outrage over the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We walked up and down Michigan Boulevard, shouting and demanding that we be heard. However, the moment that stayed with me was when the organizers asked us to lay down in the middle of Michigan Boulevard, with our hands above our heads and cry out “I can’t breath!” At that moment, I was trying to imagine what must have been going on in the mind of George Floyd. They said he cried out for his mama. They said he begged the police officers to stop, crying out that he couldn’t breath. How mortified and terrified he must have felt. Laying on that cold, hard, asphalt with a man’s knee on his neck was such a cruel, unjust way to die.
As I lay on the ground, I looked around me and I noticed something. While I was trying to imagine that terror filled moment, my brothers and sisters around me were living it. I could hear the desperation in their voices, I could see it on their faces. This was their reality. And in that moment, I felt their pain and I burned with rage. But something else began to creep in. I felt humbled and ashamed. I felt like I could not fully grasp what the Black Community had been through. Each person there had a story, and they bore the scars that racial injustice had left on them. I began to realize how privileged I was. And I started to feel as if I didn’t belong there. Was I the enemy? But then, a young black woman came up to me and hugged me. She thanked me for coming. And she told me something that has stuck with me, “We need you here.”
“We need you here.” I received her gracious words with humility. She made me realize just how important it was for me to stand in solidarity with them and to use my voice and speak up for those who were not being heard. And not only to speak up, but to fight for and with them. I could not remain silent in the face of injustice any longer. I needed to show up, speak up, and join the fight.
I learned that day that anytime we witness injustice, we cannot remain silent. That is why I believe we must stand in solidarity with those in our own community that have been disrespected by Mayor Parry. The mayor proved by his own words and actions that he does not respect the Black Community, and that he does not intend to serve them as his constituents. His apology was hollow and forced. And he has ignored the calls from community leaders to resign.
This is not something we can just shrug off and ignore. The mayor’s words were racially charged and they revealed a deep disdain for “black men”. Such a man cannot lead this community fairly and serve each and every citizen of Michigan City equally. Such a man cannot be the peacemaker our city needs.
He has shown us who he is, and we must now make it clear that we will not tolerate racism or bigotry of any kind. We must stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters and insist upon his resignation. Anything less is simply unacceptable.