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(Mental Health Moments)  “Musings & Reflections on Des Moines I Still Can’t Breathe Protest for George Floyd”(5/30/2020)

(Mental Health Moments) “Musings & Reflections on Des Moines I Still Can’t Breathe Protest for George Floyd”(5/30/2020)

Today, people from all across this country stood in solidarity and as one for a common goal, and that is to demand justice for George Floyd.  As you are well aware of, George Floyd was MURDERED by four police officers in Minneapolis.  There was an incredible peaceful protest in the memory of George Floyd that took place on Saturday, May 30th, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.

When I first saw the video footage of George Floyd being slain, I went through many emotions in my head.  The first one was complete disbelief.  My first question was, how can this happen to a city I have spent so much of my life in?  Minneapolis was my home away from home, where I would go see the Minnesota Twins play, where I would photograph concerts and even spent my adolescent and teenage years attending concerts, plus the Mall of America and IKEA as an adult.  My second emotion became full of rage.  In this I want to talk about channeling your anger and your rage in positive and healthy ways.

The first way is find out how you can get involved.  Being involved for a cause you believe in is paramount for one’s mental health and being engaged in the community that you live in.  After attending and participating in the peaceful protest today, I am convinced that I spend too much time spouting my opinions on Facebook and getting into debates with people behind a computer screen.  Instead of rage texting and wearing my thumbs out from scrolling through social media, I decided to take action.  I know that I can sign petitions through Change.org, write letters to my members of Congress that allegedly represent me, and educate myself about it.  But that wasn’t good enough, I wanted to physically be present surrounded by like-minded people and being physically involved.  So after searching with this sense of urgency that I never before felt, I heard about this protest that was taking place on Saturday, May 30th, 2020.  While wearing a mask and practicing my social distancing, I made the journey to Des Moines.

I created a simple sign that said “Black Lives Matter” and on the other side of the sign it had quotes from Rodney King, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and George Floyd.  As I was using a black sharpie marker to create this sign, with each stroke of the marker, I felt rage and anger slowly releasing out of my pores.  I felt this sense of desire to do something about this, to be a voice for those that are being unheard.  I got in my car, turned up the music and made the trip.

After going through my usual anxiety of finding a parking spot(for some reason my anxiety somewhat triggers every time I need to find a parking spot), I parked my car and walked approximately two miles to the epicenter of the protest.  Immediately, I felt this warmth come over my body as it felt like one MASSIVE family reunion as my brothers and sisters were all united as one for the same goal and that is to make sure that George Floyd gets the justice that he deserved.

This protest was 100% sanctioned and the police even allowed us to occupy University Avenue off of 235 for a good while.  With each footstep, each fist in the air, and with people yelling chants such as “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”, along with chanting “I Can’t Breathe”.  We became a united front like no one was going to stop us at least for that moment in time.

When I took the knee for nine minutes with my brothers and sisters in the cause, I felt tears well up in my eyes.  I thought about George Floyd crying out for his mother, being brutally beaten by the four cops(new security camera footage released today) and the weight of that knee crushing that man’s windpipe while Floyd was helpless and handcuffed.  While as a white male I will never come close to comprehending, I will always make up for it in empathy, compassion and having a plan to have a call to action or at least be a part of the call to action.  As the thousands were silent while taking that knee, my heart became increasingly heavy and I immediately realized that this was not about an isolated incident.  This is about systemic racism and oppression that continues to engulf our society and our communities.  This caused me to mourn and make me realize that the “land of the free” doesn’t apply to everyone, we may say it does, but given the atrocities in our history, it really doesn’t.  It also made me realize, instead of pointing fingers, WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE IT BETTER AND TO BE BETTER.

I spent time just being silent, having my fist in the air and holding my sign.  With each honk of the horn, my love for people and solidarity for this cause only fueled my passion.  I saw a black woman offering a bottled water to a white  lady although she didn’t have another one to give, she saw a need and helped the white lady in need.  I saw families coming together, which to me provides a much better education than reading out of a textbook, for history was being made on this day.  I heard former students of mine went, which made my cup runneth over, as they say.  My heart became full and warm for people looking out for one another.  A black man with tattoos all over himself shook my hand and said “thank you for speaking for us today”.  I told him “you’re welcome” with tears in my eyes.  Those seven words that the man said to me were so heavy.  I got to be a voice for the unheard today.  Instead of spouting off my opinions on social media, I took action and got to help others.

Norman Cousins said the following quote, “Death is not the greatest tragedy in life.  The greatest tragedy is what dies inside us while we live.  We need not fear death.  We need fear only that we may exist without having sensed something of the possibilities that lie within human existence”.  This quote rings so true.  What do you have to live for?  What is your purpose in life?  My readers, if you feel like you don’t have a purpose, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  You were all blessed with a gift for something.  Whether that gift is using your hands to build, using your hands to heal or using your hands to reach out to someone in need.  I want to encourage you to find that purpose and to stand up for what you believe in.  After all, someone might need a helping hand.

To be clear, I acknowledge that this struggle and this fight is only just the beginning, I will be in it for the long haul.  I will not be committing acts of violence or vandalizing because that’s not in my nature.  My nature is about promoting peace and harmony.  Also, I can use all the advice I can get to see how I can help.  I’m just speaking from the depths of my heart in this piece.

In conclusion, if you don’t agree with me, that’s okay.  I still love my readers no matter what.  At Madness To Creation, we strive to provide you with nothing but authentic content.  It’s rare for me to provide a social commentary, but I felt the need to do so.  You are loved, you are cherished and you have a value to yourself that can’t have a price tag on it.  I will leave you with this:  Who are you going to fight for?  What is your purpose?  Why do you feel you were put on this Earth?  Where will you make your voice heard?  When will you do it?

Much love, and again, please message me or reach out to someone if you feel lost or at the end of your rope.  There is always someone who will listen.

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