• This originally appeared on the Daily Local News’ website.

‘We have to do better’

The other day I watched George Floyd get murdered on my phone, and I’m not going to lie, it has me shook. Although I only watched it once, a grown man crying for his mother before dying right before my eyes has been replaying in my head. I think we are all asking why has this been allowed to happen, time and time again, and what can we do to make it stop?

My whole life, I’ve read comics, watched movies, and played video games about ordinary people who rise up in times of hardship to do what’s right, even in the face of adversity. We all fantasize that when that time comes, we will answer the call, but the reality is that no one is going to come to your door, hand you a ring and send you off to Mt. Doom. When you see something wrong, it’s up to you to do something about it.

So if you are sitting there, angry at an unjust system, join your local NAACP. Donate to the ACLU. Attend your local council or township meetings so you know what’s going on. Support the local news so that smaller injustices still get uncovered. Write your elected officials and tell them how you feel. Demand meetings. Don’t stop.

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Want to take it to the next level? Local elections are next year. You have over six months before you have to file the paperwork. That’s plenty of time to organize a campaign and fundraise for a local election where a couple hundred of your neighbors are voting. Even if you lose, running for office gives you a platform and teaches you how the mechanisms of government work so you can better advocate for things you believe in.

At the very least, vote. Vote in every election. Parties keep lists of “super voters” who are people that vote every year. These are the people they engage with, these are the people whose houses they visit, these are the people they listen to. Want to get the ear of your elected officials? Vote in both elections every year. Yes, there are two elections every year, and the ones no one pays attention to have huge impacts on our community, including law enforcement policies. Let them know that you always vote and they will come to you and ask how they can earn it. Tell them.

Problems persist because people in power allow them to, and it’s easy to think that with no power, comes no responsibility. But the secret is that we all have the power to decide who has the power, and we can make changes if we want to. All it takes is hard work, sacrifice, organization, and time. I’ve always believed that nothing worth doing is ever easy, because if it was, it would have already been done.https://459d0b8cb5e62ae6bdc61e1f3e974f73.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

To my black friends and neighbors, I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling. All I can say is that I am hurting too and promise that I will do all that I can to make sure you feel just as safe in our community as I do. I recognize we have a long way to go, but I’m committed to put in the work, because I realize that this isn’t a black people problem, it’s an American people problem. So to my white friends and neighbors, we have to do better plain and simple. Wearing a safety pin and watching “Dear White People” isn’t enough. You need to have difficult conversations, you need to listen and you need to realize that we may be required to make sacrifices if the goals we are working toward are going to actually be achieved. Also, to anyone one else who feels marginalized, know that you have allies. We might not always know the right thing to do, we may not always say or do the right thing, and it is not your responsibility to educate anyone, but a true ally is willing to listen and learn and change if you give us a chance.

Finally, to those of you who think this isn’t about race at all, I think that you should be even more outraged at the murder of George Floyd because that means this could happen to YOU. Because this isn’t just about George Floyd, it’s also about the countless people whose names we don’t know that suffer injustices that aren’t or can‘t be recorded at the hands of the State. As Americans, we need to recognize that our country was founded on a broken promise, and it’s up to us to work towards realizing the ideals that are fundamental to our identity as Americans, yet every day seem further and further from our grasp. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t something that happened and is over, it is a constant effort to realize the promises enshrined in some of the first words that our country declared when we came on the world stage, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These are dark times, no doubt, but I have faith in my neighbors and confidence that my generation, and those that are coming up behind us, are ready to finally say enough is enough. But to achieve the changes we seek it’s going to require each one of us to take on the responsibility of holding people and institutions accountable, even when it’s uncomfortable. Because letting it slide is no longer an option.

So are you ready to make a difference? Are you sick of seeing people killed and folks living in fear because of who they are? Then get out there and do something about it.

Avengers Assemble.

– Friendly Neighborhood Kyle Hudson

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