I went to the protest at the Capitol today. A few people spoke before the march, one of whom was Harrisburg’s police chief, Chief Carter. He got to the mic, and immediately, the tone of the crowd changed. People began shouting, crowding closer, raising their signs up. A few black people persisted in screaming at him, interrupting him to let him know that the violence the police brought to Saturday’s protest could have been prevented. Rage filled the vicinity.
He didn’t ever say what he wanted to say. He offered an apology for the actions of his police force, and the replies were conflicted: some yelled that he was responsible, some yelled that apologies weren’t good enough. One woman said, “Don’t apologize, DO something!” It made me realize something. I have never been comfortable with violence, and I’ve always thought that levelheaded communication was the best way to solve things – not turning a protest into a riot, looting and acting out. But I’ve never had that anger inside of me.
I’ve never had that anger inside of me because I’ve never been attacked for the color of my skin, or feared for my life getting pulled over by the cops. I’ve never worried that wearing a hoodie or reaching for my wallet could be seen as a threat, or been refused service or prevented from doing something I want to do because of the way I look. I’ve never had that anger inside of me because I haven’t had reason to – that kind of rage has never had the opportunity to build over the span of countless experiences.
I can’t say what it’s like to have that intense rage. But I can recognize that these beautiful people at the protest had it. When people condemn the violence at these protests, you have to respect that while violence isn’t good, it is understandable.
As allies, we need to protect black bodies and lift up black voices. Let them tell their stories. That story will most likely include rage. Let black people be angry. Hell, we ALL should be angry. Why are we even having these protests year after year, if we’re still standing in the same place? Let this rage fuel change. Black lives matter, and it’s about time people stopped questioning that.