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I took a stroll down Black Lives Matter Plaza on a brisk afternoon in the nation’s capital one day before the conclusion of the 2020 election season. As a still relatively new resident to the D.C. metro area, I had plans to visit the landmark, which is in close proximity to the White House.
I wanted to see the words ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ spread across the pavement in bold yellow lettering up close.
I did not anticipate a slew of murals and a somewhat festival-type atmosphere. The plaza was buzzing with Americans from all walks of life taking pictures, conducting interviews for local news, and observing the signage advocating for Black humanity that adorned a fence that seemed to stretch for a mile.
There were also weird scenes like the Black guy adorned in red Trump paraphernalia from head-to-toe and the middle-aged white women who danced off-beat to a variation of gospel music sang by another middle-aged white woman. 2020 has been a topsy turvy year for Americans from all walks of life, a revelatory period for many who have been shielded by their privilege. It’s a time of great uncertainty paired with the time-honored consistency of social inequity.
The nation is about to decide the fate of its leadership for the next four years. For many Black folks, the 2020 presidential election is the equivalent of being caught between a rock and a fiery abyss.
We both know what cannot remain and also recognize that it may not be replaced with leadership that values our lives beyond the surface level of campaign promises. As I looked at the signs and flags inscribed with a dreadful list of American names killed by American public servants, I was again reminded of the slaughter that persists irrespective of who occupies the Oval Office.
About the Author
Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be.