A tragic event happened this summer in Seattle during the Black Lives Matter protests that I keep thinking about; what I came to see, and what I learned about myself and my relationship with racism.
The Black Femme March against racism and police violence, a festive, peaceful protest for BLM was followed by a drive-by hit and run that killed one person and badly injured another.
The person who was killed was a 24-year-old named Summer Taylor. The injured person was Diaz Love, a 32-year-old from Portland, Oregon.
I saw Summer Taylor’s photo on Twitter after the event and at first I only knew them as “The girl with the pink hair”.
I have since learned that Summer Taylor used non-binary they/them pronouns. 24-year-old Summer Taylor with the pink hair worked at the Urban Animal veterinarian clinic by day and was an activist by night, participating regularly in the Black Lives Protests, which had continued daily for months, and still continue to this day.
Reading about the protest and Summer Taylor’s death the following morning on Twitter, I came upon a video of people participating in the protest before the car incident.
In the video the protesters are dancing together.
The Black Lives Matter movement, the media and the conversation about it has made me aware of race-based injustice and triggered recognition of my complicity with systematic racism. I have come to recognize my relative comfort of privilege in American society and also the pang of fear I have about losing that privilege. Privilege feels like some sort of edge that I need to lean on to get by. We live in scary times. Letting go is an act of trust.
This video grabbed my attention and made me stop and think. There they are. The protesters are dancing together, having fun. Demonstrating a society without racism and a new vision of what life can become.
Watching the dance, I see that equality for everyone is not a win-lose proposition. It is a new possibility that everyone can be privileged, and we will be better for it.
When everyone is privileged we will all be smarter, safer, more engaged, wealthier. There will be a bigger pie. There will be more, not less. Everyone will share equally in human rights and be entitled to dignity and respect – an equally privileged place in society.