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When I first heard of and watched the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the young unarmed African American man murdered while jogging by 2 white men in Brunswick, Georgia, my heart sunk.
I cried in sadness, as I just could not understand why someone would follow and kill a non-threatening jogger.
Not too long after that, the death of Breonna Taylor surfaced. A young African American woman who worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, had her life taken while asleep in her home.
The Louisville, Kentucky police SWAT team entered her home with a no-knock warrant and Breonna was shot and killed in a confusing spray of bullets. The heartbreaking truth was that the police were at the wrong home and the suspects they were looking for were already in police custody.
Then most recently the video of the unarmed African American man, George Floyd flooded the internet. We all watched in horror, as we saw a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes as Mr. Floyd was lying face down with his hands tied behind his back. Mr. Floyd begged for his life, saying that he could not breathe and calling out for help until he finally died.
It was these events that have sparked national outrage in the African American community and opened up old wounds of the pain of systemic racism.
Jan Żabiński was a zoo director in Warsaw Poland during WWII and he and his wife Antonina lived there and took care of animals in 1930s. During the Nazi invasion of Poland, they helped hide Jewish friends, colleagues and neighbors in their home and the zoo that they ran during the holocaust.
They weren’t Jewish, but they used some of the advantages that they had because they believed that Jewish lives mattered at a time where Jewish people were being murdered due to outright abhorrent racism.
In 1994, Paul Rusesabagina hid 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees in a hotel he was managing during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He had small advantage and believed their lives matter, so he helped them.
While he and other black and white protestors were in Fort Deposit in Alabama, walking to a store, he saw a white deputy pull out a shotgun on one of the black female protestors. Jonathan pushed her down and jumped in front of that shotgun and took a bullet and died instantly. Jonathan did that because he believed that her life mattered.
This individual didn’t have to be in Alabama- he was a white male in the 60s. He could have completely ignored what was happening but he didn’t because he believed that black lives mattered. However, he believed there were injustices that other people that looked like him, weren’t experiencing.
Now you may be saying to yourself, “Tiffiny, this isn’t the 60’s, this isn’t the holocaust, this isn’t genocide, what are you talking about?”
We don’t have to be in a holocaust, in a genocide, or experiencing Jim Crow Laws to be a situation where a group of people are feeling disenfranchised and unfairly treated.
What’s amazing about the people I just described, was that they were all different ethnicities. The one thing they had in common, was compassion for another human beings.
They may not have completely understood what it was like to be them. They may not even completely understand what was happening around them, or why it was happening.
But despite their fears, their confusion, and probably at times those internal voices that said, “this has nothing to do with you, this isn’t your problem you don’t have to get involved” they got involved. Why? Because of that one piece of humanity inside of them that said, “this isn’t right, and I can’t stand by and do nothing.”
Every human being that ever walked the earth has had challenges in life that have tested their will, values, beliefs, and has pushed them to the uncomfortable point where they have had to ask themselves, what do you stand for?
Right now we are in a place where people are saying that they feel unequal. They feel like they are being severely punished and they feel like they are not being seen or heard. They want it to be known that their lives have real value- that their lives have meaning and that their lives matter too.
I’ve been watching all the protests currently happening, not just in the United States, but all around the world. I found it fascinating that people in other countries would protest about something that they have nothing to do with; that they’re not even involved with.
So, I started to read about each country and the stories of why they felt like it was important to be protesting, what was happening here in the United states.
I realized that in a lot of countries, they weren’t just protesting the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans. They were also acknowledging people in their countries that were of African or aboriginal descent that had died in questionable cases the involved the police.
From Canada to France, Israel to Australia, stories of black and brown people that were being unfairly treated are beginning to be told.
Every human being that ever walked the earth, has had challenges in life, that have tested their will, their values, their beliefs and has pushed them to the point that uncomfortable point where they have had to ask themselves, what do you stand for?
It got me to thinking- it seems like there’s a pattern. A pattern where certain skin colors, shades or ethnicities may not have equal rights and may not be treated as if they are as valuable as others.
But what was even more amazing was that there were people protesting in countries that didn’t have to be there. They weren’t black, brown or aboriginal. Heck, they didn’t even know the victims personally. But, something inside of them said, this is not right.
Even though I don’t exactly how they feel, or exactly what they are going through, the humanity in me has compassion for them.
I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone and be uncomfortable in order to advocate and be an ally. I believe that there are injustices, that there are inequalities, and that they should be able to feel that their lives matter just as much as mine.
If you are one of those people, reading this with an open mind and heart, and you are not allowing yourself to get caught up or confused in the semantics being used to describe the issue (which is systemic racism) and you are ready to stand up in your humanity and compassion, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT!
There are so many ways that we can change how black, brown, and aboriginal communities are being engaged when it comes to finances, housing, businesses, healthcare, education, and police interaction.
But it’s going to take everyone to get involved and start making some changes. Starting means just taking one step. Whether that’s being willing to educate yourself on the issues, donating money, donating time, writing letters to change policy or social activism.
If you are wondering where you can start here are a few organizations/resources:
Now these are just a few- just pick one and start where you can! If you want to go even deeper on books, other organizations and ways to get involved then grab this week’s free resource, “Be The Change: A Resource Guide for Justice and Equality” in the Clarity, Confidence, Courage free resources vault: https://cccwomensempowerment.com/free-giveaways-resources-vault/
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Tiffiny has a B.A. in Psychology, and master’s degree in Public Health Education. She worked in consulting for over 16 years, as well as previously owning a fitness and health business. In her personal life, she used personal development, mindset and health strategies to go from being overworked in a demanding corporate career, emotionally drained in a toxic marriage, physically unhealthy, and depressed to becoming an award-winning figure level bodybuilding athlete and entrepreneur. As a women’s empowerment coach, she works to help women get clear on their goals, build confidence, increase self-esteem, take action on their deep desires and create a life they love