Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 8, 2020

From a brokenhearted black Minneapolis resident: Feel what I feel

By ELISE MOORE | June 2, 2020

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COURTESY OF ELISE MOORE

At a Minneapolis food bank, people placed their right fists over their hearts, raised their left fists in the air and held their breath for 10 seconds in memory of George Floyd. 

I am both honored and heartbroken to have the opportunity to put my thoughts on paper and share them with you. I want to use this platform to tell my story and the story of my city. 

Being here in Minneapolis, as the hurt and vulnerable cry out for all we have lost, I feel empty. I am tired, and I feel broken. I feel robbed of my feelings, with nothing left as I, along with many others, attempt to mourn George Floyd in these Divided States of America. 

On Monday, our hearts shattered at the sight of another brother murdered. Another son, friend, coworker and human lost. And from what? From the fear of the weak-minded and those who protect them. They have broken our spirits and robbed us of feeling secure in our own community. For us, in this community, our world has changed, but the world that oppresses us remains the same. 

As I’ve gone out into my community in the aftermath of another night of rampant protests, I now know something. Life continues. We still have to sweep up the glass and charred wood left in the wake of pain, and paint the walls again and continue, as we’ve always done. We will let the rain wash away crimson stains on the pavement beaten from us by those we were taught would protect us. 

We will continue to drive past where a man begged for his life, in his most vulnerable moments of life, and was not granted breath by his executioner. Where, not even four years ago, our hearts were broken when a woman begged for her boyfriend’s, Philando Castile’s, life on Facebook Live with her four-year-old daughter in the back seat. I picture this not only for me, but how easily could this have been my dad? And my four-year old siblings having to witness it?

But for those of you who look like me, these events are ingrained in our minds. I was reminded of them when I got pulled over and scrambled to turn on the audio recording feature on my phone to send to my sister just in case. I am reminded of it when, in my own neighborhood, I feel eyes on me from patrolling cops because I stick out like an ink stain on a white shirt. So, who am I directing this to? 

This is for those who do not feel the way I do because they don’t look the way I do. This is for my white friends from home and from school that amid the destruction and chaos in our own city post a picture with #BLM somewhere on it and think that it’s enough but continue to vote those into power that oppress and hurt us. I regret not being harsher when you voted for our racist president, who in this last week has belittled me to no more than a “thug,” because you thought you were making a statement. People are being vulnerable, putting their lives on the line — and he is sitting in his bunker tweeting. This is for those who thought you could come into my city and cause destruction and chaos, yet we are still here, still fighting.

This is for the people in my family that think it’s okay to make comments and post on Facebook that promote the agenda of those who hurt me, just because that politician’s agenda aligns with you on something else or because they align with the message to return America to its “former glory,” reminiscing on a past I would never be welcomed into. They post links to conservative media that serve only to magnify the hatred and villainization of those marginalized in society.

I am disgusted by the men and women on TV that are amplified by these promotions, sneering at the actions of those in my city as if they can relate to us. As if they can comprehend the fear we feel daily just for living with darker skin. They know nothing. These manicured robots sit here and quote Martin Luther King, Jr., twisting his words against us to justify their cowardly thought that the system of oppression that has strangled us for so long is not the problem, we are. They focus on the destruction of my city, as if these buildings and streets mean more than the lives of my people, as if it were not our hands that built it. 

So how can you help? Hopefully by now I have convinced you to get out and reach out to your community to see how you can be an ally, not a bystander. There are plenty of Minnesota resources that I know are being put to good use and are making an active difference during this time. But also, as these protests spread across the country and the world, consider supporting your local efforts; those are what will continue to magnify our voice. Look into the resources you can support, such as local bail funds and supply drives for the parts of the community directly hit. 

This is especially true in our second home of Baltimore. Our city has a past of oppression, but also of people trying to improve the quality of life for locals. They have hurt and cried out ⁠— and have been ignored and suppressed. Let us as students continue to magnify the voice of a community who has taken us in and allowed us to walk among them. 

We remember moments of power, such as the protests in the days following the murder of Freddie Gray, when we made our voices heard. At the student-run Sit-In last spring, we showed our administrators that we would continue to stand up for those who were ignored, regardless of their decision. And given the email we received Sunday from the office of University President Ronald J. Daniels, it is time to hold them to their promises of promoting inclusivity and outreach in the Baltimore community. Time and time again they have failed to do so. As a member of both Hopkins Athletics, on the Women’s Basketball team, and Fraternity and Sorority Life, in Phi Mu Gamma Tau, I hope my mentors and peers will stick up for me, and for this cause. 

Lastly, I need to emphasize that it has not even been a week since the murder of George Floyd. We have a long way to go if we are to push to achieve the equality we seek. The feelings we will all feel in the following weeks will be overwhelming, but you must remember that some of us feel it every day, and 10-fold every time we have to watch the broadcast of one of us being killed. Let that drive you, but also look for the good around you so that your flame does not burn out. 

I find encouragement from my sisters and brothers across the country who have reached out to me in a time they know I am in pain. I find love in the conversations of race I’ve had with my mom and stepmom and the open communication and understanding we now have. And I find peace knowing that this needs to happen, as painful and destructive as it may be. 

From this, we will grow. The clean-up efforts here are the proof that we love our city and want to restore it to its beauty, but only in the right way. We’re ready to heal and rebuild a city where we know this won’t happen again. In the words of Leslie Edmond, president of NAACP Minneapolis, “Black Minnesota is done dying and white Minnesota is done hiding.” Let this cry carry out across the country, wherever you may be reading this. This is the template we need to live by. 

Let me take this last breath to remind you of the mental state I am now in and many others are entering. You are either vocally with me or silently against me. Help lift up my voice, for it is growing weary of fighting for basic equality for so long.

Elise Moore is a rising senior from Minneapolis, Minn. studying Psychology and Natural Sciences Area. She is a varsity athlete on the Hopkins Women’s Basketball team, serves on the executive board for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the sisterhood of Phi Mu Gamma Tau.

If you are interested in supporting protesters, the family of George Floyd or efforts to rebuild cities affected, resources can be found here: https://www.insidehook.com/article/news-opinion/where-to-donate-to-support-protesters.

Resources for learning more about race and privilege can be found here: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/diversity/social-justice/understanding-race-and-privilege.

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