protest 7

Signs on display in Tehachapi on June 2 expressed a variety of sentiments.

Our country is in a state of unrest. Of turmoil. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, after Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Since that day there have been endless protests calling for justice, not just for George Floyd, but countless other Black Americans.

We can all agree that Tehachapi is a beautiful, peaceful town, and a small pocket in American society. Tehachapi is also 81 percent white. We, as a community, can not be complacent. We can not sit back on our haunches and say “well, this isn’t our problem.” That is the epitome of white privilege. To those who think that protests are “big-city attitudes” and “sensationalized,” let's revisit history and see what has effected change.

The United States is built on a history of protest. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the unjust treatment of the colonies. The Women’s Suffrage Parade in 1913 is credited with paving the way for the passing of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. The 1960s saw protests such as The March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March. Both marches were credited with garnering support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the former ending segregation and discrimination in the workplace based on race and the later giving Blacks the right to vote. Protesting isn’t a new concept.

The discontentment surrounding police brutality and the horrific killing of George Floyd was just the tipping point. It’s time for a change. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children, family and friends to be brave and to speak up for what’s right, not what’s easy. That racism is still alive and well and that just because you’re not experiencing or seeing it does not mean it doesn’t exist, even here in our small town. This isn’t an attack on your livelihood; giving Blacks the opportunity to live and succeed is not a revolutionary concept. Is it that hard to stand up for people that want something so simple as equality? Something we, as white Americans, take for granted every day.

This should not be a kids vs. adults issue and this isn't about disagreement between generations either, i.e. boomers, millennials, Gen Z, Gen X. This is an issue about basic human rights where silence is compliance. While there will always be disagreements between all of the above on music, clothing styles, etc., the topic of racism has no second opinion. It’s easy to ignore the issue, and fall into the “it’s not my problem” attitude. But even here in small-town America, it is our problem. How can we, as Americans, call ourselves the land of the free and home of the brave when we are truly neither" Just something to think about on this 4th of July week.

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