Today I had the privilege of attending yet another Black Lives Matter rally/protest in Philadelphia, this one hosted by the local Muslim community. It wasn’t a large rally, but dozens of people showed up to show their support and take a stand against police brutality and discrimination. Before I arrived, the protestors circled City Hall, then they gathered in front of the Municipal building and spoke about the vital change we must see. They spoke about how we must respect law enforcement and thank them for their service, but also speak up and hold them accountable. They spoke of non-violence and how even the smallest actions can bring about progress. Then many of the protestors laid upon the ground in what has become a symbolic ‘die in.’ Men, women, children… They all lay on the ground for 4.5 minutes in silence. Some of them with hope in their eyes, some with pain. Then, they all stood and the ceremony ended with an Islamic prayer. I was certainly a fish out of water since I am an Atheist and did not speak Arabic, but I was never intimidated, I was welcomed and treated so nicely. One of the organizers came over afterwards and spoke to William and I, and seemed truly interested in how I felt seeing the die in. I have been to protests, but this was the first time I had seen that so it was very emotional and sobering. I think this just goes to show, Black, White, Latino, Asian, Gay, Straight, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, young and old… We can all unify and demand an end to discrimination.
I challenge each of you to attend a protest, even if you do not agree with or take part in the current movement, go attend a rally or march, respectfully stand to the side and witness the cry for justice. It is something which hopefully will open your eyes and show you why this is happening and how you too can be apart of change. Educate yourself.