Photo by Erika Beras/PRI -- Samuel Bomera, in the center, and Mpanzu Barugire, on the right, came to the US as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They hold their newborn twins as they meet with a social worker, Viola Byegata, at their new home in Northview Heights, a public housing project in Pittsburgh, on Oct. 4, 2017.

When Bill Gandy was growing up in Northview Heights in the 1970s and 80s, no one had to show identification to get in. But now there are armed guards and 200 security cameras dotted around this sprawling, isolated public housing project run by the Pittsburgh City Housing Authority. Everyone who enters has to show ID, every time.

“It just feels like a prison system to have a checkpoint in front of a neighborhood,” Gandy says. “That’s already a bad start, to tell you the truth. It’s like going into a military camp.”

Are you angered by the death of George Floyd? We are.

Are you concerned that property destruction and violence are driving the focus away from peaceful and just demonstrations? We are.

Are you ready for Pittsburgh to go back to normal? We are not.

Murder in broad daylight, by agents of the state, is horrific and shocking and cannot stand.

But there are many other and more subtle ways to choke life from BIPOC, all very normal in the before times, such as:

All of this normal, accepted behavior is slow motion violence:  failing to act systematically, diligently and persistently, as documented by a scathing scientific study (commissioned by City of Pittsburgh) that indicates that Pittsburgh is the worst city in America for Black People.

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/pittsburgh-is-the-worst-city-in-america-for-black-peopl-1838218551

Yes, we ALL want to feel comfortable and good about ourselves– displaying black screen as avatars, discussing/arguing in social media echo-chambers, posting public statements that you “stand with them.” But feeling comfortable without changing a thing at the expense of BIPOC, especially our Black brothers and sisters, can no longer be an option.

Please watch this video of Van Jones about latent danger of racism and then look at yourself at the mirror. Next, ask people in your own network and circle of influence to do the same.

Back to the old normal is not acceptable.

What are you going to do to create a better now?

 

Respectfully,
Will Halim
Founding Director of Storyburgh

 

Storyburgh is run by freelancers/part-timers who each have own individual views. The opinion expressed here is my own and does not represent that of the entire group.

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