Positives from Protest
For countless individuals, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests produced some great presents for the year. The number and diversity of participants in the protests, the length and span of the protests caught many persons off guard. Millions of persons are pleasantly surprised and more hopeful because of the changes the protests wrought. Where you stand determines what you see and how you see it. For some of us, results are definitely small, medium, and large; some are promises fulfilled; others are promises we expect to be fulfilled. Certainly, all of us won’t draw the same conclusions; you may see more or fewer, possibly no substantive gains.
I refer to the changes cited here as positives, regardless of size. Some of the changes are symbolic; others are drastic. Some took effect immediately; others are soon to be realized (we hope.) In July I received a list of some of these changes and immediately began making additions. With the many negatives we have dealt with this year—being told that 1000s are suffering and 1000s more will suffer long-term effects of COVID and many more will die—I thought this would be a good time to present some of the positives from the protests.
Numerous cities approved—and are approving—measures to change police departments: Oakland, Columbus (civilian review board inspectors general), San Diego (commission with subpoena power), Philadelphia, New York, and other cities (end stop-&-frisk and/or set up oversight commissions). Minneapolis failed to dismantle its police department but succeeded in cutting the budget.
Some police departments have been reimagined; some had their budgets reduced. Albuquerque, New Mexico, for instance, has a public safety department to handle problems some citizens believe the police should never have been expected to solve.
A number of cities have banned the chokehold.
Charges were upgraded against Officer Derek Chauvin, and his accomplices were arrested and charged with the murder of George Floyd.
A number of cases in which police officers killed unarmed people of color are being brought to the public’s attention and sometimes reopened.
Dallas adopted a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other officers who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.
New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.
North Carolina’s Supreme Court will allow more than 100 persons on death row to appeal their cases.
Georgia passed a hate crime bill.
In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.
Los Angeles City Council introduced a motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.
Police brutality captured on cameras led to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).
Millions of dollars have been donated by persons and companies to fund fights against racial injustice--Nike, Adidas, Estée Lauder, Sephora, PayPal, Apple, YouTube, (the last three a total of $730 million), Seahawks $500,000.00.
Netflix donated $120,000,000 to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, contributed $20,000,000 to HBCUs.
More than fifty Washington State companies have committed $2,000,000 to Washington Employers for Racial Equity.
Professional sports athletes/teams use their celebrity and money to support the cause of BLM: T-shirts, cleats. Many donated and/or pledged large sums of money, made statements calling for the end of racism, shared incidents they had endured. Some, a la Colin Kaepernick, took a knee.
Some apologized to Colin Kaepernick, now say they understand what he was protesting. (still no job)
Some companies allow employees to wear BLM on T-shirts and caps.
Millions heard of Juneteenth for the first time. Thousands, maybe millions, marched to celebrate Juneteenth. Some states have made Juneteenth a holiday.
Nike and other US companies made Juneteenth an official paid holiday.
Merriam-Webster revised its definition of “racism” by including “can be systemic.”
Asheville, North Carolina’s City Council voted unanimously for reparations. “Reparations,” “systemic racism” and “privilege” have become the subject of conversations.
More persons have become aware that racism kills psychically, too.
Both the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Style Guide sanction capitalizing “Black,” “Indigenous,” and other terms of identity. (BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People of Color)
The Mississippi state flag no longer bears the stars and bars, no more Washington Redskins nor Cleveland Indians; some high schools no longer have Native Americans as mascots. The Oregon vs Oregon State football game is not a “civil war.”
Hasbro has removed cards “Invoke Prejudice,” “Jihad,” and “Pradesh Gypsies” from the game Magic: The Gathering.
GitHub software is removing coding terms that refer to slavery.
Quaker Oats is retiring Aunt Jemima; a new name is forthcoming. Mars is retiring Uncle Ben.
Confederate monuments in many places have been removed.
“The Bachelor” is a black man for the first time.
NASCAR banned Confederate flags.
Hordes supported Bubba Wallace when a noose was found in his NASCAR garage (Fans have no access to the garage.) A few days later it was revealed that the noose could have been in the garage for years, yet the initial response was heartening.
Some cities, notably New York, D. C., and Seattle, have “Black Lives Matter” streets and plazas.
Commercials in newspapers, magazines, and on television present public service announcements geared toward eliminating racism.
Many incidents of bias in academia, the arts, business, trades, etc. are being related to the public whereas once victims were afraid to speak for fear of retaliation.
Both the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Style Guide sanction capitalizing “Black,” “Indigenous,” and other terms of identity, BIPOC = Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
Best-seller lists are led by books about race, many written by African Americans; sales are up 500% because of anti-racist books. Almost all of the top ten nonfiction books on the New York Times list are about race and racism.
The PUBLIC MARKET bolded the “B,” “L” and “M” in it’s name.
Many, many apologies have been made.
As stated earlier, everyone may not see these changes or see them as positive. That millions around the world joined in the protests, confronted racism, and called for inclusion, diversity and equity is a wonderful gift for anyone who celebrates any holiday of the season. Some changes give hope, renew hope. What better way to make peace on earth and good will to all people everywhere a reality than respecting and supporting the tenets of the mission of Black Lives Matter, especially if we believe all lives matter?
~Georgia McDade, Ph.D.
Georgia S. McDade, a charter member of the African American Writers’ Alliance, began reading her stories in public in 1991 and credits the group with making her write poetry. Many poems are inspired by artists. Georgia writes for South Seattle Emerald and Leschinews. She also does interviews for KVRU (105.7) and KBCS (107.3). Outside the Cave is the name of four volumes of poetry; Observation and Revelations: Stories, Sketches, and Essays is the name of her volume of prose.