As the events in St. Louis have been constantly changing and unfolding, so have my emotions. I, like many people in the nation, have been glued to Twitter, livestreams, and independent news sites to stay informed day and night. Everything seems surreal and chaotic. My emotions are constantly jumbled because nothing makes sense anymore. The world seems to have turned upside down.
The Weekend of Resistance in St. Louis this past weekend calmed my scattered thoughts and raw emotions for a few days because everything seemed under control. The spirit and energy of the youth there was awe-inspiring. The marches, trainings, seminars, and meetings were all very well-planned and organized and went off without a hitch. Everyone was kept updated with current plans via text and fliers. Cellphones were lifelines.
At the marches, I was somewhat comforted because I saw white people there. Before you nod your head knowingly, please understand why I am saying this. The racism and police brutality that we are seeing right now is not a black people problem. It is absolutely a white people problem. I wanted to be there to show solidarity with black people who are being killed for the color of their skin. To show them that I know this is a white people problem. To let them know that I care. And that I’m sorry. And to show other white people that I will not be silent and that they shouldn’t be either. And to show the police that I know what they’re doing and that I despise them for it. And to help bring about change.
So I wanted to see other white people there who also realized that it is a white people problem. The white people there definitely seemed to understand this. I felt like there should have been much more white people-this is not the time to be silent-but I also feel like this event was mostly planned for black people to come together, plan, and get ready for what lies ahead. And black people turned out en masse. To be there for the cause. Though the Friday march occurred in wind, rain, and 40 degree weather, these were the true believers. Inclement weather didn’t faze them. Some wore rain slickers; some didn’t. Some carried umbrellas; some chose to brave it without.
If I had to choose one thing that I was most impressed with, it was the personalities of the young leaders. Make no mistake about it-these are a new breed of leaders. These leaders take pride in the fact that they’re paving their own way. That they’re not necessarily going to take the same path that Martin Luther King, Jr. took. The emerging leaders of the black struggle are vibrant. They’re charismatic. They’re passionate. They’re angry. They’re respectful. And they’re respected. The protestors followed their every lead. The leaders set the tone for the marches and the meet-ups. And the protestors followed it. Their rhetoric was fiery, but their behavior was controlled. Their oratorical style was impressive. Their call and response powerful.
I left St. Louis with a sense of calm. For the first time in a couple of months, I felt like everything would somehow be ok in the hands of these capable youngsters. My thoughts and emotions were finally soothed. Yes, we have a problem in America. A very big problem. But, if anyone is up to the task of confronting this problem and bringing about change, it’s these leaders. They’re organized, energetic, fired-up, intelligent, skilled, and ready. And being ready is undervalued because it is so necessary. In the words of the Dream Defenders, we ready.