I was at work, during a very slow hour, scrolling on Facebook. I saw this event for protesting Atlas (group) that same day at 5pm. Lucky me, I was off at 5pm. My bf came to scoop me and we headed straight there. It didn’t matter how tired I was, who we knew going or how many people would be there. Our support was needed, so we showed up. At the protest, we walked through the streets of Harbor East to Choptank, Ouzo Bay, and one other restaurant that belongs to the Atlas Group. There were people enjoying meals as if nothing ever happened. Black couples who may or may not have been informed were also in attendance. We shouted “Black Lives Matter, all the time,” “Don’t pay another cent, Atlas must repent,” “Boycott Atlas” and other phrases that conveyed the overall message. As the organizers of the protest gathered to the front center of the crowd, they gave a list of demands. I won’t list them all, but they included dropping the dress code across the restaurants and recognizing their acts of discrimination.
During the protest, it was business as usual, customers were ordering food and drinks, but then they had a crowd around the patio seating informing them of the behavior of the restaurant. They saw signs that said “Black Lives Matter.” They saw signs that said “White Silence = White Violence.” Some people thought it was a joke, laughing while we demanded justice, fairness and equality. Others decided to leave and some quietly moved their plates to more comfortable seating inside. While we protested outside of Choptank, they continued to increase the volume of the music. Another way for them to silence our voices – it was cool tho, we just got louder. Get uncomfortable!
I wasn’t shocked to see people patronizing the businesses still, but I was shocked at the fact that even with the information presented, it seemed that they couldn’t wait for us to move on. No one wants to face these injustices. They just want to live their daily lives as normal and carefree as possible. You don’t think that’s what we all want? Everyone does not have to be on the front lines or protesting but damn, don’t contradict our movements. We need to unify in order to be the force for change in this unjust ass world.
Personally, I know that I don’t have all the answers and I still have loads of information to educate myself on. I have come to a place in my life where I can’t be comfortable with just going to school, getting my degree and living the “American Dream.” I can’t be comfortable with staying under the radar just to avoid conflict while I’m watching so many Black people being discriminated against in a White world. I can’t be comfortable knowing that not only was Breonna Taylor shot in the comfort of her own home, but none of the known parties involved were arrested and sentenced for their crimes. I can’t be comfortable seeing videos of the beautiful soul that was Elijah McClain and feeling that pain of him no longer being with us. I don’t need to know these people personally to take this shit personal. Going forward, my goal is to create an environment where people can be Black and be surrounded by Black to build unity and trust within us so that we may thrive in our own communities. My goal is not to swap places with our counterparts or oppress others the way we have been for generations.
We need to be prepared and we need to take action. I am a Black woman who does not wish to live in fear for the future that lies ahead. I am a Black woman who wants to be a part of the change. I have started with educating myself, finding ways that I can support and showing up when it counts. We all have our day to day battles and struggles, jobs, and grievances and that is absolutely okay. Unfortunately, we weren’t dealt the hand that allows us to decompress and analyze on an individual basis. We have to play an active role every single day in fighting these battles. It may be a single post, signing a petition or simply patronizing Black owned businesses specifically. I have never seen a better time than now to be more active in this fight.