America’s Normal: A Tragedy

By Max Padilla

On Jan. 1, 2020, many of us rang in the new year with booze in one hand and our best friend in the other.

On Jan. 9, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a mysterious coronavirus related to pneumonia. This announcement proved an unassuming start to a devastating year.

On Jan. 21, 2020, the Center for Disease Control confirmed the first Covid-19 case in the U.S.

On Jan. 31 the WHO issued a state of Global health emergency.

On March 11 the WHO officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

On March 15, 2020, Breonna Taylor was murdered in her home.

On that same day, California became the first state to issue a stay-at home order.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered in the streets of Minneapolis.

People all over the country took to the streets, enraged by his death. Their peaceful cries were met by tear gas and rubber bullets from unmoved, unsympathetic policemen. Their calls and activism met with empty words by most of the politicians who claimed to represent them.

On June 2, 2020, most of you posted a black square on Instagram for Blackout Tuesday. That may be all that you did — the definition of performative activism. Now due to the circumstances that the world found itself in, posting may have been all you could do.

As the pandemic raged on, rushing to the streets became harder for people to justify. By fall, streets once filled with “BLACK LIVES MATTER” signs and people of all ages and races coming together for equality were empty.

On Dec. 11, 2020 the first Covid-19 vaccines became available. A return to normalcy finally seemed like more than a pipe dream.

Many of us saw this as the first steps towards the old lives we long for. Just over the horizon, we could see masks coming off; bars and restaurants reopening; flights to see our loved ones within reach.

Within many of us, there is probably a knee-jerk reaction to throw aside the year we have just endured and finally enjoy life. But if we have learned anything from 2020, it is that there is much work ahead.

On Dec. 22, 2020, Andre Maurice Hill was murdered in his car by police after a non-emergency 911 call.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the capitol was stormed by an angry, white, racist mob.

Donning shirts with anti-Semetic symbols and attacking the very blue lives they told us mattered more than our own not three week prior, these traitors were allowed to saunter into a woefully unprotected Capitol Building.

When I was there on June 5, 2020, the National Guard looked down from the steps of the Capitol Building at a crowd begging for equality. We walked for hours in the blistering heat, putting ourselves and our families at risk because our justice system had made it painfully clear to us that being Black is a crime.

They would not have hesitated to throw us to the ground, force us onto our knees and cuff every last one of us if we made one misstep. Even as I write this, I know that is a painfully optimistic view of what may have happened.

This is the America we live in today.

This is the America that will persist if we fail to take action. If we let our imminent freedom become more important than the lives of a suffering, silenced people. This is America’s normal.

I know I must sound like a broken record. But when the travel restrictions are lifted and the bars open once more, do more for the Black Lives Matter movement than a fist emoji in your Instagram bio.

Now that you can go back to work, try to donate what you can to organizations that provide legal aid and support to communities most affected by police brutality. Next time there is a Black Lives Matter protest: go! Walk to your state’s capitol, peacefully, and show your legislatures that this is a movement, not momentarily sparked by another tragic death of yet another unarmed Black victim, but an ongoing demand for justice. Get on your phone and call your congressman, your mayor, your local legislatures, and demand justice. Be aware of the legislative decisions being made in your community and do what you can, whatever you can, to make your voice heard.

You’re about to gain your freedom back. Do something with it.