The North Carolina Black and Brown Policy Network (BBPN) was birthed out of a need for change and equality for directly impacted people crying out for justice in the face of a global pandemic – COVID-19. Now, we speak out in solidarity against a created construct – racism – in all of its forms and its deadly consequences.

We are activists. We are organizers. We are Black and Brown. We are mothers. We are fathers. We are LGBTQIA+. We are the voice of those that face injustice that should not be forgotten or invisiblized. Our hearts are restless and our hearts are hurting. Black people all over the world, in our nation and throughout the state of North Carolina are not okay… and we won’t be for a while. Our right to be heard, to live, and to breathe in the world has been violated in such a way that many of us have been rendered absolutely, unequivocally speechless and our tears are the only way to vocalize the pain.

For others, our fury, generations deep has become a burning fire that could, if unresolved, burn the systems of oppressions and the buildings that represent them to the ground.

From where we are, wherever it may be, in our homes or marching in solidarity, there is a numbness that is present that we cannot explain and after the last week, we’ve all likely come to the same conclusion – the United States does not, has not and will not value Black lives or Brown, Asian or poor people either. The recent uprisings have spread throughout all 50 states and 18 countries, which galvanizes the impacting of coming together first in the streets and next at the discussion table to create the principles and policies necessary for our collective justice and peace.

We just know it. This knowing resonates inside of many Black and Brown people.

George Floyd, age 46, North Carolina native, father, brother, friend, BLACK MAN, was murdered before our very eyes while complying with Minnesota police officers. In his final moment on this earth he called out for his mother on the other side.

Between his pleas for air and mercy and his last breath why didn’t the officer see him as human? We watched for nine minutes as he pleaded for his life.

We are all puzzling through the complexities and contradictions of this current moment the best way we know how. As Black people, some will pray for peace, some will take that peace by force. All emotions from Black people are valid – anger, sadness and joy and all points in between. MANY storms swirl around us right now – COVID-19, the intersection of a global moral and cultural crisis fueled by the murdering of Black bodies, the onset of Hurricane season and a morally corrupt and divisive administration. Right-wing infiltrators that have complicated and muddied the message of our movement. They move among us in disguise. This moment has a historical context. No true progress has ever been made in the history of our country without mass protest and we expect no differently now. We will hold our lawmakers accountable and demand they listen, so that ALL systems of oppression will be dismantled.

It was Frederick Douglass that said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.”

That agitation is in our protest. That agitation is in our voice. That agitation is in our resilience and our righteous anger. Some of us are nursing wounds from rubber bullets, our eyes are still oozing from the tear gas, but we press on – together in this fight.

What we know and what research shows is that what actually brings peace and safety is safe and stable housing, well-funded public schools and other public institutions like libraries and cultural centers, accessible and quality health care for all, and ending the criminalization of mental health crisis and addiction.

George Floyd’s 6-year old daughter Gianna was quoted as saying, “My Daddy changed the world.” He sacrificed his life but she had to sacrifice her father.

The world weeps and mourns with Gianna, as well as the families of Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Tony McDade, and the countless others lost at the hands of police brutality and vigilante lynchings.

George Floyd’s death synthesized this moment and we won’t stop the momentum of this movement.

George Floyd couldn’t breathe. He’s not alone.