Sharon Anthony is a self-described “newbie” to protesting. She held a sign reading “silence = violence,” in the sea of protesters in Brooklyn on Friday.
“By being quiet, by not acting, pretending or saying, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ I’m complicit in the violence against the black and brown bodies I love and serve,” Anthony said to Cline-Thomas.
Anthony said she first realized the families of her colleagues and students of color were experiencing more deaths from COVID-19 than hers. Then, she says, there was a noticeable shift after Floyd’s death.
“Just seeing their demeanor change, their energy change and their desperation emerged,” said Anthony.
The desperation for change has been spilling out on the streets of New York. It’s also drawing support from a cross section of the community.
In addition to the protesting, people have been coming together to have difficult conversations.
“People have to be okay with being uncomfortable,” said Kris Taylor of Flatbush. “If people are not okay with that, we’re not going to get anywhere.”
“We can avoid any hard conversation we want to, but it doesn’t make the hard conversation go away,” therapist Chad Anderson told Cline-Thomas.
According to Anderson, it’s important to research the historical context of racism in America to better understand how people are feeling.
“But, it requires a willingness to listen, not just with ears, but also hearts,” said Anderson, who added it’s not imperative for the black community to be the teachers.
“Our white brothers and sisters need to have these conversations outside of black people’s presence, within their homes, with their white friends and their white counterparts,” said Matthew Yates, a protester.
Those are the discussions that brought Anthony to the corner of Eastern Parkway and Bedford Avenue on Friday.
“That was hard. I didn’t realize things that I had done and I had said, and how I had made people feel,” said Anthony. “All under the guise of ‘I didn’t know,’ or ‘That is how I was raised.'”
It’s an example of self-reflection leading to action.
“Don’t ask what you can do, learn what you can do,” said Anthony.