Girl vs. The 11 O'Clock News



May 31st, 2020


“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides."


Elie Wiesel


The last strains of the Downton Abbey theme fade to silence, the screen goes dark, and it's over. This is the first time I've ever watched a TV show from the first episode to the last; I didn't watch the last 5 minutes of Gravity Falls, because I didn't want it to end. I'm left with a comforting sense of happy endings. Everything is as it should be - the loose ends are tied up nicely, the characters I love either settled or dead, and all is right with the world.


In all this chaos and tragedy and heartbreak that surrounds our country, it's kinda fun buying into a fantasy for a minute. Like maybe, there is a happy ending for all of us.


That thought doesn't last long. My aunt texts us to turn on the 11 o'clock news. There are protestors in the Country Club district.


A place named after J.C. Nichols. Nichols, who wrote restrictive racial covenants into the deeds of his properties to keep the black folk out and the white folk in. Nichols, who baked these racist policies into our country's very fabric of real estate. Nichols, whose whitewashing/redlining/blackhating stripped thousands of their livelihoods, and ruined their hopes of prosperity, overflowing fridges and white picket fences. Nichols, who decided the American Dream was for me, and not for them.


Nichols, with a fountain and a plaza and a country club district all named after him.


And now they're fighting back - do they know this place's history? Do they know that what they are fighting against is the heartbeat that runs underneath the beautiful Spanish square?

Wish I knew if they know. I want to understand.


I watch as police stand stoic and unmoving - I wonder what they're feeling. I can see the protestor's emotions on their faces, in their movements and words. My heart swells with their pain, their grieftheirlosstheirrage. But the officers give nothing away. Their silence speaks both loud and quiet.


Wish I knew what they were thinking. I want to understand.


I get a sudden sense that I'm watching history. My head spins with images from the Civil Rights Movement. One picture in particular; a young woman is arrested in front of a movie theatre with a marquee that reads "Damn the Defiant."





Bruce Davidson, Time of Change, 1963


I sprint upstairs to grab my notebook, my journalism-class and history-nerd instincts kicking into overdrive. It's a Pensieve themed "memory book" from Harry Potter. I capture important things in it. This moment - what I'm seeing on the screen right now - this is something I have to preserve.


I scrawl "May 30th, 2020," at the top of the page, and then, eyes glued to the screen with fervent intensity, I write.

History is happening Right Now.


I'm sitting in the living room watching protests over the death of George Floyd. There's tear gas everywhere. People are running, carrying milk jugs to get the gas out of their eyes. They are chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot!"


This must be something powerful, if the anger and fear of racism and police brutality overrules the fear of the virus we've all been living in for so long.


If this many people are willing to risk COVID to protest, that says something to me. To me, that says, sit up, pay attention. This is important. This is history.


More police officers than I've ever seen, just now lining up on J.C. Nichols parkway. The KCPD have ruled it unlawful protest - people throwing frozen waterbottles. It's getting violent, scary, surreal.


So odd. It's all happening by Chuy's.


Y'know, I've been to Chuy's. Eaten there before with friends.


Like I said. It all feels unreal.


Especially when you think what they're all out here for.


I didn't watch the video. Mom told me not to. But just the thought of it...that video...


My heart is broken. WHY?!?!?


I can't say a thing except that we need Jesus more than ever now. Please God, we need you...


BECAUSE GOD, HE SAID "I CAN'T BREATHE." WASN'T HE YOURS? WASN'T HE YOUR CHILD, GOD?


Isn't he yours?


I'm trying to fight for him, because I know he was yours. Is. Still. When will this end?


God...


I want to understand.


I'm fifteen, not well versed in the ways of the world. I won't pretend I'm an expert on anything. I've never had a boyfriend, don't know what it feels like to be kissed, I don't know which way to swipe a debit card or the difference between debit and credit, for that matter.


But I do know a few things.


I know that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


I know that, as Elie Wiesel said, "the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference."


I know that I have the priviledge to ride my bike or run or go to the store or drive a car or play my music loud without fear of being shot.


I know that NO ONE should die shouting "I can't breathe" with witnesses screaming "help this man!"


Most importantly, I know that God made George Floyd.


I know that God loved George Floyd.


God loved - still loves -

George Floyd

Breonna Taylor

Ahmaud Arbery

Atatiana Jefferson

Tamir Rice

Sandra Bland

Eric Garner

Philando Castile

and the hundreds, probably thousands of other who I did not name but wish I could.


I know that in God's eyes, their lives matter. And so they should in mine, and yours too.




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@2020 by Addison Vallier

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