George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, MN, sparked nationwide protests against ongoing police brutality and systemic racism. His senseless murder was a wake-up call to many, and though Floyd’s death was not an isolated event, its recording led many to reflect on themselves and their communities, and become more informed on issues of race in America. Black Lives Matter rallies were not limited to major cities, but instead were happening in small towns across the United States as social media flooded with information and sentiments about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others whose names and stories are now known to the general public.
Starting in the summer, there have been solidarity events and demonstrations in Ridgewood in the midst of the pandemic. The teachers in the Social Studies Department arranged a group of students to partake in a discussion forum. They discussed the apparent and obvious injustices in society, and how we can take steps toward a more inclusive and just system. This conversation has been continued outside of the school system. Ridgewood students have taken initiative and organized marches and protests in town, raising their voices in a call for justice. Looking forward, Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, and Glen Rock have organized a community read of the book So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. People will discuss and reflect on their own communities and how to improve them moving forward.
Ridgewood has and continues to participate in the Black Lives Matter Movement. However, during these tumultuous times, with ‘breaking news’ headlines on a daily basis, we must not let the fight for racial equality slip into the background as students return to school and a new sense of normalcy sets in. It is imperative to continue to educate oneself and take action in one’s community. Although people often focus on national issues, educating and changing at a local level is extremely important. It is vital that we keep the conversation of systemic racism and police brutality alive in Ridgewood, and to do our part to educate ourselves and address the injustices we see in our society.
Photo: Ridgewood for Black Liberation