George Floyd’s memorial service was held this morning as I write this. Another black life is over at the hands of murderous police. His right to life ripped away. No due process, no trial, no fairness. No equal justice under the law. We all know this is not an isolated incident.

Good organizations are fighting to end racism and bring about change in this country. They are moving mountains. We need to win this fight.

I finished building a pyramid from cinder blocks in my backyard. It’s impossible to build a pyramid block by block and not think about slavery through the ages. When George Floyd was murdered, our country erupted into protests. This is one way to help raise funds to remember George Floyd and support the people fighting against systemic racism in this country.

Next Saturday, June 13th, people can make a minimum $30 donation, and sit atop the pyramid for 8 minutes 46 seconds. All funds go to these three organizations:

Black lives matter, the Massachusetts Bail Fund, and the George Floyd Memorial Fund. My hope is that funds given to these organizations help bend the arc towards justice.

For a $30 donation you can sit on top of the pyramid for 8:46. Use that time to reflect on your own thoughts. If you can’t make it here physically, please consider making a donation anyway. If you’re black, please come and sit on the pyramid for free. I’ll see if I can find some palm fronds to fan you with, and I’ll have some grapes on hand.

Book your time on the pyramid.

 

Why am I doing this?

Growing up in the South, I saw the ugly head of racism in many forms. I’ve seen first hand how black people are treated differently than white people, especially by the police. Yes, first hand.

When I was cooking in Charlotte, I would occasionally get pulled over after my shift. Pulling out of a restaurant parking lot late at night, I was a likely target. The police officers figured they’d be able to catch someone who drank too much wine with their steak. Book another one for their monthly quota. They’d follow me for a while, sometimes finally pull me over even if I wasn’t swerving or breaking any laws.

The conversation was always the same.

“How’re you doing tonight?”

“Fine, is everything alright officer?”

“Have you been drinking tonight?”

“No, I just got off my shift.”

“How much did you have to drink before you left?”

“None, I’m heading home to do that.”

Half the time they’d take my license and registration, most of the time they’d just let me go. That’s not just ‘getting lucky’, that’s white privilege right there.

Then came the time when I wasn’t driving. Reggie was. Reggie and I went to the same high school, played in the same band. Years later, Reggie worked hot apps next to me on saute station. We got along like a house on fire from day one. The other guys on the line sometimes got annoyed at our non-stop banter, but it made the nights fly by. That night, we were heading back to his place to hang out. The water pump on my car had failed, so he offered me a ride.

We left the restaurant as usual, and a cop pulled a U-turn to get on our tail. Lights, Sirens, and Reggie started sweating. “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.” I told him just stay calm and we’ll be fine, he didn’t break any laws. He just said “Nah man,” rubbing his palms on his legs. The police officer approached and tapped on the drivers side window with his mag-lite. Reggie wound down his window.

He asked “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Reggie, visibly shaken, said “No sir.” The cop leaned over and looked at me. I could see him thinking, wondering what choice he was going to make next. “Where are you boys headed.” “Home.” “How much have you had to drink tonight?” “Nothing.”

The cop took a long pause.

He took in a breath and let out a little sigh.

“Alright, get outta here. Drive safe.” And he left us alone.

Reggie could not believe what happened. He told me that had never happened before. He wasn’t ordered to get out of the car. He wasn’t frisked. He didn’t get blinded by a flashlight shining in his eyes while they grilled him with questions.

I could see he was shaken to his core. He knew he was in a dangerous situation when he was pulled over by the police. His experience told him that. Mine was completely different. I never had that fear. I knew if I was polite, said I’m sorry, and made a few jokes with the cops I might not even get a speeding ticket.

We grew up in the same city, but worlds apart. The fear I saw in Reggie that night is felt by millions of black people every time they deal with the cops. Police violence is one slice of the broad systemic racism black people face every day in this country.

Every time I hear of another black person killed just living their life, I remember my brief glimpse into that world. George Floyd. Philando Castile. Breonna Taylor. We say their names. Going out for a run. Ahmaud Arbery. Grabbing a bag of skittles at the corner store, Trayvon Martin. “I can’t breathe” Eric Garner. We say their names. We remember these people who passed away not gently into a good night, but violently, before their time, because of pervasive racism. No one is born racist. They learn it from either their parents, American society, or both. People must be taught to be anti-racist.

That’s what I’m dedicating this pyramid to this cause. I picked three organizations: Black lives matter, the Massachusetts Bail Fund, and the George Floyd Memorial Fund

For a $30 donation ($10 each) you can sit on top of the pyramid for 8 minutes 46 seconds. If you can’t make it here physically, please consider making a donation anyway. If you’re black, come and sit on the pyramid for free. I’ll see if I can find some palm fronds to fan you with, and I’ll have some grapes on hand.

Book your time on the pyramid

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