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Jael Calloway of southeast Portland asks the white community to use its privilege to protect and uplift people of color.

COURTESY PHOTO - Jael CallowayThe death of 46-year-old George Floyd (say his name out loud!) and more recently 53-year-old David McAtee (say his name out loud!) has created a ripple effect that arguably hasn't been felt since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 after the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin (say his name out loud!)

Seattle, New York, Portland, London, Berlin — the world is feeling the pain, rage, sadness and confusion that Minneapolis was handed on May 25 and that Louisville was presented with on June 1. Yet again, the world is forced to mourn the lives of innocent black men. Yet again, the world is faced with white American officers who allowed their racial prejudice to color their perspective to the point of murder.

Ex-officer Derek Chauvin saw no immediate repercussions after kneeling on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, ultimately causing his death. Colin Kaepernick peacefully kneeled for not even two minutes during the national anthem to protest the oppression of black people and people of color, yet was booed, lost brand deals and endorsements, and felt economic consequences almost immediately. Which knee laid upon a man's throat and which knee represented the fight against racial oppression?

Derek Chaucin's knee took a father, son and husband away and yet had no repercussion for four days. Officers have killed black persons and received paid time off as a result. This system is corrupt, is wrong, and has continued to fight protests with the idea that "all lives matter."

No. Do firefighters go into a neighborhood and spray down all the houses before getting to the one house that's engulfed in flames?

No. All houses matter, but there is only one house that is up in flames. There's only one house that needs immediate recognition, attention, response. The black community is the burning house.

But even this analogy doesn't fit what is happening here in America because in 2020 all lives don't matter. All lives don't matter to our government. All lives don't matter to our law enforcement. All lives don't matter to the leader of our country. All lives are being constructed based on whether your skin is white or black, white or brown, white or not white. All lives can't matter until black lives matter.

Racism is being demonstrated by those who have the most power. These are the people who willing formulate the predisposed bias that is the driving force between fair treatment and murder.

And those who are white, who have the privileges that come along with not having dark skin, need to help amplify those voices who are being shut out. These white individuals have to stop looking at their privilege as a bad thing. Take it from a black woman: You don't want to be oppressed.

Use your voice to augment the voices that have been repeatedly hushed. Use your privilege to shield those who can't be protected by the people who claim that protection is their target when their targets are actually on the backs of black Americans.

You will never be able to personally understand the pure anger that years of suppression and discrimination has left on people of color, but you can understand the severity behind cold-blooded murder.

Jael Calloway is a resident of outer Southeast Portland. She is a graduate of Centennial High School and Mt. Hood Community College and is enrolled at the University of Oregon.


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