Last night, a peaceful yet powerful protest took place in Miami.
It started at the doorstep of Art Basel to fight for justice for Israel “Reefa” Hernandez. The protest wound around the city shutting down traffic on I-195 and other busy intersections.
It was part of the many Shut It Down rallies that are happening around the country after the Brown and Garner decisions.
This protest is exceptionally significant as it is attempting to bridge the art world, which is predominantly White and privileged with the reality of being an artist and Hispanic, Black or Asian.
Hernandez was killed by the police after being caught tagging a McDonald’s. A foot chase followed in which police Tasered Hernandez, killing him.
No legal action has been taken against the police officer. Hernandez and other graffiti artists like him are about making people feel uncomfortable. It isn’t just about vandalism. This is what good art is about.
The fact that he was tagging a symbol of the corporate oligarchy that is currently ruling America has faded from perspective.
What has become glaringly clear is that as Americans, we have a serious problem. A lack of compassion, a problem of apathy.
Fifty years ago, it would have been seen as a deep seeded problem of hatred and bigotry. Not that hatred and bigotry don’t exist today but that they have transformed into an immense apathy by Whites to the plight and experiences of racially diverse Americans.
I am White.
I am married to a darker skinned Vietnamese man and we have an inter-racial son. I have dated and am friends with people of all colors, religions and ethnicities. What is going on today scares me to death. I do not want my son to grow up in a world where he may be shot and killed because his skin is not a perfect shade of white.
This is why Whites must stand up and do something. Slavery was mostly abolished due to the intervention of White Abolitionists in conjunction with the workings of the African-American community. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s had as many White supporters as Blacks.
We are all humans with the same drives, desires and rights to live our lives as we see fit. It is part of the Constitution, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
We have to stop this gap of inequality that is threatening to capsize our nation.
Go to a protest, hold a prayer circle, hand out flyers, start a website, make a painting, make a song, make a T-shirt, make a Facebook page, make a YouTube video or Instagram account.
Just do something. We have to work together to bring justice, compassion and peace to America.
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Author: Bria Luu
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock