FEAR. That was the only emotion I felt when I first saw yet another viral video of an African American citizen being senselessly murdered in broad daylight. Fear that when people see me, they don’t see someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s teammate… they see a threat. I am stripped of my identity and instead reduced down to the color of my skin.
To know that our lives can simply be taken away due to another man’s prejudice, bias, ignorance, cruelty, with no serious or lasting repercussions is why I, along with millions of minorities across the country, am feeling an overwhelming sense of fear, anger, and disgust.
Not only do we fear our own lives, but we fear for the lives of our families, our friends, our teammates, our coaches, etc. Because at the end of the day, when the world looks at us, they see a threat, a thug, a person of not equal value.
But now is no longer the time for fear but rather a time for action. A time to stand up and speak our truths to those who have not cared to listen. To boldly position ourselves with our heads held high and declare ENOUGH!
To those who do not share this experience, to those whose reality isn’t plagued with prejudice, violence, and oppression… it is your responsibility not to turn a blind eye to this issue. It is your responsibility to amplify the voices of your fellow Americans whose voices have been oppressed for centuries. To our non POC, it is time to acknowledge, educate, and most importantly, act. Acknowledge both your privilege and that racism is STILL a prevalent issue in this country. Educate yourself about the numerous different ways racism manifests itself into the everyday lives of African Americans. And finally, TAKE ACTION! Ignorance is no longer an excuse.
To my brothers and sisters: this shared oppressive experience of being black in America has both strengthened and united us. And although nothing can make up for the unspeakable murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, we must continue to honor their lives by enduring that they serve as a permanent catalyst for change.
Rest in heaven Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
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My name is Daelin Hayes. I am a 22 year old African American student-athlete from the University of Notre Dame. God has placed in my heart the call to lead my community through active service. He has called me to use my platform and words to give back, inspire, and empower the youth of our minority communities so that they may grow up with positive forces to create lasting change!
My time at Notre Dame has taught me that true leadership is about embracing a relentless commitment to finding new ways to serve the people you’ve been called to lead. To choose the act of silence and not speak our truth would be a disservice to those who’s voices I work to empower. It is time to #StaNDup ☘️ for what is right and #StaNDtogether 🙏🏾 as a united front against forces of oppression!
Black and white photos: Johnny Silvercloud
Ahmaud, Breonna, George mural: @Arielsinhaha
This reflection can be used in the classroom to support teaching African American Studies, Ethnic Studies, or Black History Month.