Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. It's also what would have been Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday.
Breonna was an EMT who worked at two hospitals during the pandemic. On March 13th, she was fatally shot in her own home 8 times by police. Not only did they execute an unconstitutional "no-knock" search warrant, but they were at the wrong house, looking for a suspect who had been taken into custody earlier that day. Nobody has been arrested or charged in her murder.
Just because there's no video of her death doesn't mean she deserves justice any less than George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and all the other black lives lost at the hands of police.
Until last night, I hadn't participated in any of the recent protests. Here in Southern California, we're still taking social distancing pretty seriously. My husband and I have been following the "rules" and didn't want to risk our health- or the health of those in our community- by being in close proximity to so many others.
Then a friend shared an article that made me see not only the white privilege inherent in my fear, but also my blindness to the deep connection between the pandemic and systemic racism, particularly in the realm of public health.
The article highlighted an open letter from a group of infectious disease specialists arguing that "protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on Black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported." Over 1200 doctors, epidemiologists and other health experts have since signed the letter.
Empowered by this implicit blessing, I joined our local protest last night. Hundreds of us gathered peacefully, alongside police, and I didn’t see a single person without a mask. Did my involvement make a direct difference? No. But I was happy to support my community and stand up against the innumerable injustices that have seemingly become the status quo. And I returned home newly committed to leaning into uncomfortable conversations, challenging my biases and actively engaging with organizations fighting racial injustice.
So while I'm taking tonight to celebrate our anniversary, I'll be back at the protests tomorrow, Sunday and beyond. I encourage you to stand in solidarity with your own community in whatever ways you’re able. Be strong. Be safe. Be heard.
The Anti-Racist Reading List: 20 books (besides White Fragility and How to Be an Antiracist) to help us learn, question and engage.
Rachel Ricketts' Anti-Racism & Racial Justice Resources: Addressing topics including Whiteness, Racism + Spirituality/Wellness, and Health + Pandemics.