No matter where we live, how we present ourselves, or the color of our skin we want to ensure that our communities are safe and full of life. However, those whom we entrust to serve our communities and protect us from harm instead target, detain and even kill Black people like Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor, among too many others.
About a year ago, I was driving out of Iron River on my way home from a doctor’s appointment. I had stickers that were expired, but I had paid the fee and I was waiting on the stickers. I was pulled over just as I was leaving town, the police officer walked up to my window as I used my white privilege to shuffle through my glove box for my registration & proof of insurance.
When the officer made it to my window, I had already rolled my window down. So he greeted me, and that’s when we recognized each other. We had gone to school together, used to be co-workers at one point, and ran into each other occasionally at the social hotspots around Ashland. He asked me how I was doing, ran my papers, and sent me on my way with a warning to go get new stickers.
That was it. That was the entire story. No one was detained. No one physically forced me to remove myself from the vehicle or made sure that my hands were visible. No one shot me.
Honestly, I shrugged it off at the time when I was pulled over, besides feeling a little annoyed. But now, I’ve read countless articles. I’ve heard the testimony of family, friends, and peers as they share their pain with the public. They are demanding justice and accountability for what happened to Daunte Wright. They want consequences from the trauma caused by the actions of this police officer, Kim Potter.
Why is he dead? A mistake is what Potter alleges. I was pulled over for the same thing, expired tags, and the situation I experienced last year didn’t end in death. Daunte’s story ends in death. That is why his story has so much of a different outcome. He has a son. He now has to live without his father. He has to grow up knowing that the person who was meant to protect his Dad. Was the reason why he is no longer with him.
As a bystander and a white woman, I could not begin to understand the trauma and grief put upon Daunte Wright’s family. I do feel a rage that boils in my belly for what has happened to them. That rage, that I feel is righteous, wants to bubble into action. I want to drive a few hours to protest.
I stopped myself though. I stopped myself from traveling the three hours and thirty-one minutes it would take for me to drive to Brooklynn Center, Minnesota. Why? While we have a spotlight on the racism that exists in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Racism exists everywhere, in all spaces. Racism is here, in my town, in my family, in my peers, in me.
I’ve chosen to take the action into the Northwoods. We need to empower as many folks in our own community to do antiracist work, together. We all want a Wisconsin where each of us, whether we’re Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, Immigrant, or white can live safely in our communities, in our homes. Free from fear.
We can do that. Together. Dismantling the systemic racism we live our lives in is no easy battle. It is constant and will be lifelong. We need to exile white supremacy from out in the open and from the hidden nooks and crannies. That means making the commitment to have the uncomfortable conversations that we may want to avoid.
We have to have these conversations with strangers in line getting their groceries. When you hear them harass the cashier. And it also means those tough talks with our peers, friends, and families. Those conversations that we hear behind closed doors when no one else has their ears open and their eyes peeled.
We have come together to stand up for the promise of justice for all. We must demand an end to brutality and bias against Black people and other Communities of Color who are traumatized and impacted by this continued crisis. For the sake of families everywhere.
Chelsea Anderson is the Communications & Digital Strategist for Progress North