I didn't protest in 2020, here's why...

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Keith Lamont Scott. Terence Crutcher. Eric Garner. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. 


In December 2014, I joined thousands of New Yorkers for the Millions March NYC to peacefully protest police brutality. My 18-yr-old sister joined me and we felt empowered by the historic experience we were sharing together. We started at Washington Square Park and marched to the NYPD headquarters. Our chants at the time were “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”, “What do we want? Justice, Now”, “No Justice, No Peace”, and “Black Lives Matter”. After 3 hours, my feet felt like they were on fire. We were collectively exhausted — physically, emotionally, and mentally. The Millions March NYC was the last protest I physically participated in. 


Ever since Mike Brown, I try to avoid watching the murders of Black people on video for my own mental and emotional health. When Terence Crutcher was murdered, I accidentally watched the footage and I couldn't look away. I instantly felt disgusted. I wanted to scream. We have hashtagged and protested against the unjust killing of over 20 Black women, men, and children since the death of Mike Brown. The crime they all have in common? Being Black in America.


I watched the video of George Floyd's murder. The unjust killing of George Floyd is pure evil. I’m convinced that Black people in America are in danger. I knew whole-heartedly I was not going to join the protests this time around. Like many Black people living in America, I have been struggling with the trauma and anxiety of surviving a global pandemic (Covid-19) while navigating Black suffering. The perpetual wounds seem to be inescapable; many of us have accepted that this is a by-product of 400 years of inequality and Racism in America. So naturally, my immediate reaction to the uprisings across the country after George Floyd’s murder was — We are TIRED. This is Exhausting. Instead of protesting — I spoke up on social media, voiced my concerns in my workplace, signed petitions, donated to various bail funds, and donated to social justice organizations across America. I participated in the #blackouttuesday movement on social media and I shared the stories, art, writings, and content of creatives and advocates as a sign of solidarity. 


I’m proud of the many global citizens who continue to protest in the streets against the unjust behavior of law enforcement. It takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. I commend the protestors who peacefully marched while demanding the convictions of police officers involved in the murders of Black men and women across our Nation. Black Lives Matter. Black Joy Matters. Black Futures Matter. Black Art Matters. Black-Trans Lives Matter. Black Children Matter. All Black Lives Matter.


If you are silent about state-sanctioned violence against Black Americans, you are complicit. Our world has come together with a new battle cry demanding both Justice and Accountability. I stand strongly in solidarity with the many courageous and passionate people, both in America and abroad, who peacefully protested and spoke out against police brutality. I protested in 2014. In 2020, I decided to extend compassion to myself and honor the fragility of my heart and emotions. I did not physically protest. And that is okay.


with love,

-Latoya


Don't Shoot. NYC Protest 2014. Union Square
NYC 2014, Millions March Protest. Union Square. Image by: Latoya Leslie

You can also read "My Last Protest" on Medium.

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