Aminata Cairo | Amsterdam Zuidoost | June 10, 2020

We need everybody, we need your energy, we need your fire, your passion, your love and your compassion 


Wi kon wi kon dya

We come together right here right now

We come together right here, right now. That is important. Not only do we come together here in Amsterdam, but all over the world people are here and are coming together, and we know why.

When I told my 16 year old black American son a black man has been killed by the police, he said “What else is new?”. When I told my 21 year old black American son people are protesting, he asked me “What is different this time?” You see, we used to live 20 minutes from Ferguson when Michael Brown was murdered, so unfortunately for my children this is nothing new. So when we are talking not just about police brutality but about racism and what it does, this is nothing new. 

I am glad that people are standing up all over the world, that we have new people. For some people this is new. And I don’t care if you joined up last week, 5 hours ago, or 5 minutes ago. I am glad you are here because it is time. A lot of things are being said and I know we are anxious and I feel the pain too. And we feel the anger and we feel the rage and all that is okay. We know what is out there, that is nothing new. We deal with it at our jobs, in our education, in our health care system. It is nothing new. So like my son asked, what is going to be different this time? 

Do not underestimate how hard this work is. If you want to judge, sometimes you have to be loud, sometimes you have to be quiet. We all come to this whenever we are ready in whatever way, when we are ready. But do not underestimate how hard this work is. Because this work has been going on for hundreds of years. We are just the extension of those that came before us and those that came before us, and those that laid down their lives for us. 

You are here and that means something.

So what does this work ask of us, because this work is hard. What this asks of us, is that when you come to the table to do this work, that you bring all of yourself, and that’s the challenge. This thing has been going on for 400 years. And it is not just about what is going on out there, but about what it has been doing to us. Because racism is so insidious. We have been ingesting this racism and it is in our pores and it is in our being and it is normalized. So we don’t question when somebody puts us down. We don’t question when our stories are not heard. We don’t question when we are marginalized, because it is normalized. 

And so the challenge is, we come with our rage, we come with our pain. The challenge is we all need a detox. In America we say “We all drank the cool-aid”, which is a horrible reference I’ll tell you about some other time. Toni Morrison said racism is a distraction. Somebody else said it is not a distraction, it is systematic. But I am telling you racism is tiresome. Racism drains your life energy, racism drains your humanity from you. And so that is the fight. When we show up to do this fight, how can we do this with the fullness of our humanity? Racism is tricky and you don’t notice it, and we look at each other like “well, that one is a little bit dark, or that one is a little bit lighter”. Because it is in us, that’s how tricky it is. So we have to work and detox that nonsense that is so stuck within us, so that when we show up ready to fight we can bring all of us in our full humanity. That’s what it takes. 

And you cannot show up to fight and demand justice if you don’t believe in it for yourself. You have to understand your value and that you matter. So I want you to look to your left and look to your right. I want you to tell your neighbor “I see you, I will listen to you, I feel you.” Because that‘s what it takes. And it is a good thing that we are here on the earth. I want you to bend your legs. You are standing on Mother Earth because you have to understand that you stand on the shoulders of, of the shoulders of, of the shoulders of. You stand on the work of, of the work of, of the work of. This is not about you, this is about ALL OF US! And this is about those that came before us. So when we do this work, when we do this cleansing, when we make this change, it is also in honor of those that laid their lives before us. That is what we came here to do. 

And next time we go around and we look at our beautiful black children I want you to see the brilliance in them. I don’t want you to go around saying I wonder what this one is going to be. This one is brilliant, that one is brilliant, you are brilliant. We have to hold these children up. When we go into their schools, when we see them in the streets, when we see them playing sports. You are brilliant and I will hold you up. And if you need to lean on me you can lean on me because that’s what it takes. So again, if you showed up last week, if you showed up 10 years ago, if you showed up 5 minutes ago, we need you. We need everybody, we need your energy, we need your fire, your passion, your love and your compassion.