George Floyd’s death rattled me to my very core. I feel ashamed to admit that over time, I have grown to be desensitized to the constant slaying of people who look like me or my friends. No one says their names. Their last moments become viral and indecently public. Our brains learn to process the heartbreak faster every time. Soon, we are disappointed by our complacency to view these killings as normal.
To make matters worse, the response of the media and the vague coverage of losses like these make the general public believe that these murders are justified. On many front pages in the past, the victim’s integrity and innocence have been scrutinized to the point where people forget the real crime. Instead of striving for justice, our leaders put on a distracting display of bureaucracy that results in no real change.
This time, there is an air of uncontrollable anger and frustration because George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight. I find myself sitting at home, trying to process how we let the world get this horrific. Personally, this tragedy has uncovered harmful ideologies within my culture. I am Dominican and have spent time discovering my identity and learning about my black ancestry. This, however, is something that many Dominicans refuse to accept about themselves. Due to some of our lighter complexions, many Dominicans are privileged enough to acknowledge this injustice and carry on with their lives as if they are untouchable. Being woefully ignorant is not acceptable; before we can begin to demand for our world to be better, we must acknowledge what is wrong with it. Engaging in these kinds of dialogues with the people I love most has been draining and rewarding. The national outcry of George Floyd’s murder has forced us to confront the monster that has been haunting our country: police brutality.
The reality is that this is something we should all educate ourselves on. The police were founded on the principle to protect and this mission has failed. Although I have never feared for my safety when in close proximity to the police, a world where that is a concern is not a just world in my eyes. COVID-19 has forced me to stay home, even when my mind and soul yearn to march alongside so many other activists and passionate members of our community. Although I feel hopeless at times, social media and the power of our devices have connected me to so many people and causes I can help.
Although our current reality feels disheartening, I am so excited to lead our world into a better place. Being a millennial has been a roller coaster of an experience: I was born in the aftermath of 9/11, a student while school shootings were rampant, and just one of many activists in the making as we worry about the countless social issues our world is plagued by. Above all, we will demand more of our leaders and we know exactly how. To everyone reading this, please understand the weight and value of your vote if you are able to exercise this right. With a vote, you can decide who will advocate for our lives. If voting isn’t possible for you, campaigning and encouraging everyone else around you is just as important. This is not an isolated incident. We will be demanding much more from our politicians and leaders because we know the world cannot continue to be this way.