An increasingly polarized climate has resulted in this beautiful revolution we call Black Lives Matter we are experiencing today. As both an observer and victim of this increasingly militarized society I’m proud to see us finally unite. However, I’m afraid. I’m afraid because of the toxic seeds being sown within our own walls. I’m afraid that our movement will destroy itself before it even has a chance to grow.
I’ve had the privilege and misfortune to come from a highly diverse background. I was raised by a drug kingpin who bred fear of the police into me from an early age. I was no stranger to wiretaps, unwarranted searches, and brutality as a child. So deeply ingrained was my fear that even today my heart skips a beat when I hear that signature siren.
Fast forward to high school where I found myself working for and rubbing elbows with politicians and leaders of the community. The narrative shifts entirely. Law enforcement officers are upheld as the pinnacle of justice and morality. This is especially true for politicians, who hold as much reverence for law enforcment as the average citizen holds for our armed forces. But speaking as someone who’s brother is in the military, let’s applaud them for their selflessness but not excuse them from their faults.
Now I find myself in 2016 on a college campus with a diverse student body. Higher learning continues to play a crucial role in discovery. Inside as well as outside the classroom we are still trying to discover who we are. Discovering our professional aspirations, our sexuality, and our political views. It’s easy to find characters ranging from the student body politician that seeks incremental justice all the way to the activist seeking to ignite civil unrest. I believe there’s both beauty and power in our wide spectrum of ideologies. But I also believe that what unites us may tear us apart.
The revolutionary minded have become easy targets by the center-left and right wings. The moment traffic is disrupted, flags are waved, or voices are risen then they are labeled “extremist.” What most people don’t understand is that the current state of public discourse is bathed in so much complacency and inaction that it will take a few to get their hands dirty to expose how clean we think we are. I have so much love for my militant minded sisters and brothers because they go into battle knowing that they have a target on their back. I stand behind them rather than making them easier to shoot.
Likewise, I support my agents within the system. These are the fundraisers, doorbell ringers, and suit wearing brothers and sisters who show their support from behind the scenes. We label these individuals as weak or “sympathizers” who would sell us out for a chance to conform. On the contrary, these allies are the ones that often have the most impact from within the system at crucial times. If you truly believe that change can only come from the outside and not from within then it’s because you’ve never had a seat at the table.
Neither pacifism nor civil disobedience is pure in any sense but I do believe in tandem they can dismantle our deeply corrupt institutions. Let’s not be quick to alienate or argue with each other when we aim for the same goals. We may never mobilize around ideologies but let us unify around the principle that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Born in Boston and raised on the south side of Chicago, Ricardo has been a long-time entrepreneur. His first venture was a coffee business in high school. Currently, he manages Neutral Design Studio which provides mobile and web development for small businesses.