Thoughts on Peace and Freedom, written by Bridge Builder Trey McCray III
The late and forever great Malcolm X once said, “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
Malcolm X’s words strongly resonate with our current situation. As an African-American, I know I can say for myself, and many others, that we are tired. Tired of having to fight tooth and nail to simply breathe in an oppressive space refined over many centuries. Tired of seeing others who look just like us beaten and murdered over and over again. Only to wonder if we will be next and when will be next. In America, it is simply unimaginable to be black and at peace while knowing of the many journeys that have been taken to achieve the elusive feeling. An underestimated burden of stress constantly plaguing the minds, bodies, and souls of black people at every waking moment. To be ever so close, yet ever so far, is a feeling that can never be genuinely articulated through words.
I have seen the faces of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade repeatedly in my mind.
The fight against racism as an African-American is the equivalent of a fully grown lion mauling a toddler. Only for the toddler to be resurrected and subjected to the same pain frequently. Even if the toddler tries to learn new tricks to evade, the lion of racism always prevails. In each instance, the toddler grows tired before eventually realizing evading is not an option. The only way for the toddler to survive to fight. The only way racism can be destroyed for it to be continuously fought against. History has shown negotiation is not an option when one of the negotiators is selfish and grim. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted negotiation, and a bullet was launched into his head. Colin Kaepernick attempted negotiation and was removed, without fair reason, from a job he grew up loving. Kapernick and Dr. King are only two names of the many who have attempted negotiation. In the end, the results are the same.
The passionate riots and protests happening across America are the result of a centuries-long negotiation for peace and freedom. There are no options left for an African-American’s fight for peace. There were no options for Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade when they were brutally murdered by the system. A system dressed up in blue, white, and red that screams freedom while forcing its foot down on the dead bodies of those who sought freedom. Artist Jermaine Cole asked the question, “Do you wanna be, free” to which African Americans will always reply yes. A reply screamed from every black man, black woman, black son, and black daughter tirelessly in life and even in death. Peace has been separated from our freedoms far too long since our ancestors were put onto the boats. Resulting in generations to generations of black people to never know peace and freedom. To only know peace and freedom as a concept as wild as the fantasies put into the books we’ve read.
In summation, there is no more asking, no more negotiation. I, Windsel McCray, am saying peace can and will no longer be experienced by the oppressors as long as blood flows through the bodies of black people. I, alongside my vast and black family, will continue to fight. I could speak for ages, but I am sure the message has long been sent. Peace and freedom will be achieved by African Americans, even if it means the peace and freedom of others are forever disrupted.