Sunday, June 14, 2020

Out Of Many, One

Guest contributor Sierra Kantamneni
ChayaVeda Intern and UF College of Journalism
The past few weeks have been nothing short of surreal. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and thousands of other Black Americans have changed the world. Protests internationally for Black Lives have ignited the much-needed conversations and steps to create permanent change. 

As a first-generation Indian immigrant, I have witnessed the rampant anti-blackness in my own household. From the colorist roots in the Indian caste system to the infamous Model Minority stereotype, Indian culture perpetuates anti-blackness and ignorance. The conversations I have had with my family since the inception of this movement have been poignant and visceral, and most importantly, transformative. We recognized our privileges as non-Black people of color and how we directly benefit from the systems that continue to terrorize Black Americans. Our presence in the US is thanks to the efforts of those who fought during the Civil Rights movement. The passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965; which lifted restrictions on immigration into the US, was a direct product of Black-led activism. Staying silent is complacency. We must use our privilege and voices to seek justice for the Black community.

As the protests gained momentum, my social media flooded with resources on how to aid the Black community and ensure the movement generated long-term change. It is easier than ever to educate yourself and learn about the systematic racism in the US and be an informed ally. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not participated in the protests as my father is imuno-compromised. If you are in a similar position as me and cannot protest, do not fret! There is still much you can do. There are thousands of virtual petitions you can sign to open old cases or investigate those where the system simply failed in seeking justice. If you have the financial means, you can also donate to relief organizations, victims, Black-owned businesses, etc. Another method, and arguably the most imperative, is education. I have been reading books and watching documentaries regarding the Black experience in the United States, and the systems in place since the slavery-era that continue to oppress Black Americans. There is simply no excuse for ignorance. I urge you all to truly take the time to learn, listen, and understand the injustices rampant in our country. 

I commend those who are on the front-lines of the movement despite the risks, and for all the change these protests have brought. People from all backgrounds have united for this cause, and have already generated substantial change. Governor Andrew Cuomo (NY) recently released several reforms to the state in regards to police brutality and racism. From banning chokeholds, outlawing racial 911 calls, and only allowing independent prosecutors to represent in cases against the police to eliminate bias, Cuomo has facilitated the incentive stages of permanent change. Furthermore, several Confederate statues across the country have been toppled, the most recent being the fall of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham in Richmond, VA. Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields recently resigned after the murder of Rayshard Brooks, and is now evaluating methods of reform and rebuilding trust in the community, And lastly, Minneapolis has committed to dismantling its police after George Floyd’s murder. In the words of his six-year-old daughter Gianna, “Daddy changed the world.”

All in all, it would be foolish of me to say we could undo centuries of systematic racism in a week, but this is a promising start. Now more than ever, we need to unite and take a firm stand against the racism, police brutality, and flagrant oppression Black Americans face each day. We must speak up for them, and ensure that the justice our country promises to all of its citizens is served. Our country’s motto preaches inclusivity, 
E Pluribus Unum”, meaning out of many, one. Out of many states, one country. Out of many people, we are all the American people. 

Link to petitions, donation sites, and other resources:



Black-owned businesses in Gainesville:

Black-led LGBTQ+ Organizations accepting Donations:

Innocence Project:

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