Opinion: It’s been eight years, and it feels like nothing has changed.


People attend a rally outside Jackson Square in New Orleans, Friday, June 5, 2020, protesting the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Andi Robinson

I was twelve years old when I watched the jury deliver a non-guilty verdict to George Zimmerman. I was thirteen when Eric Garner was killed with an illegal chokehold. I was fourteen when Michael Brown was killed and the Ferguson riots began. I was almost fifteen when Freddie Gray was killed and Sandra Bland was found dead. I was almost sixteen when Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed. I was eighteen when Botham Jean was killed. I am almost twenty years old, and I have witnessed the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and countless others. It has been eight years, and it feels like nothing has changed.

I’ve seen countless people criticize the protests and riots. These are the same people who celebrate the Fourth of July, Pride Month, Labor Day, or women’s suffrage, days they would not have without protests. It’s very easy to sit here and judge protestors, but as a black person, every form of protest seems to not be good enough for the standards of everyone else. We invoke the name of Martin Luther King, but he was still assassinated. Colin Kaepernick was fired for peacefully protesting. Now, people are in the streets during a pandemic that is killing black people at a disproportionate rate, and people at home are still criticizing them!

We would not be protesting if events like this if black people were not killed for the color of their skin. Systemic racism has ravaged America for 401 years, and it will continue to ravage America if we do not do anything about it. The people at protests are outraged, and this outrage has been building up for centuries, passed down from generation to generation, tired of the darkness that is allowed to overpower America.

Protestors are being punished unjustly around the country. From college students Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young being tased and assaulted by Atlanta police officers to protestors being assaulted in Washington D.C. so the president can put on a performative press conference. It is heinous to punish people for using their First Amendment rights to see some good in America. Especially when weeks prior, people were allowed to have armed protests over wanting to reopen hair salons and nail salons without the same treatment protestors over George Floyd’s death have received.

America must change. If you are white or non-black POC, please use your privilege to help out black people. Sign petitions, call your elected officials and demand they look into creating or supporting legislation (currently, Rep. Ayanna Presley and Rep. Ilhan Omar have proposed legislation condemning police brutality), donate if you can, and if you are comfortable, join the protestors. There is still a pandemic ongoing, so please be safe and bring supplies for yourself if you go out.

We have the power to bring about change. It has been 52 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1968, but there is still much more to do.