As a young Black girl immigrating to the United States, a place that, from afar, I thought was the epitome of equality and fair opportunity, I would have never thought that someday I would feel the need to or have to participate in any type of protest regarding the inequality of Black people in this country.
"I have said this before, and I will say it again," Lewis said in June 2019, a year before his death at 80 years old on July 17, 2020. "The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy."
In honor of the late John Lewis, a civil rights leader, he is quoted as saying: "To those who have said, 'Be patient and wait,' we have long said that we cannot be patient. We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.
In recent weeks we have been seeing a string of articles praising the exemplary ways that women political leaders of various nations throughout the world have been handling the COVID-19 crisis. Some of these articles suggest, overtly or tacitly, that women are simply better leaders, period.
I live the pain and stress of being black in America every day: I am a black woman, the mother of a black son, sister to black men, and aunt to my black nephews. I remember what it was like as a young girl to be afraid to go to Howard Beach for fear of being chased out. I know what it's like to walk on Liberty Avenue and be called "nigga" and being so young that I didn't understand what the word meant, I had to ask my mother. I know too well that feeling in the pit of your stomach when a police car pulls up behind you and even though you know you haven't done anything wrong you fear that your life may be in danger from what should be a simple encounter. Like all African Americans, I am tired of this burden.
As cities burn and protestors storm streets across America in reaction to the ongoing slaughter of Black and brown people by law enforcement, many have asked what my late husband, Congressman Elijah Cummings, would say in this moment. I think he would urge protesters to "focus on what they are fighting for" and not fall into the trap of letting anger and destructive actions distract from their goal.
If you aren't able to be out protesting, there are still tons of ways you can support the current movement for racial justice at home. Here is a list of resources, organizations to donate to, petitions to sign, and a number of other actions you can take from home to help support Black Lives Matter as an ally.
If you are able to or interested in participating in the current protests happening across the United States, there are many things you can do to make the process safer for yourself and your peers. With the help of multiple sources across social media, we've compiled an extensive list of tips, items to bring, and do's and don'ts for protesting safely and effectively.
Aleece is a Urology Medical Advisor at Aeroflow Urology, and a board-certified physician assistant specializing in sexual medicine, women's health and urology. In 2019, she opened up her own private practice, the Fosnight Center for Sexual Health, and implemented the sexual health grand rounds curriculum at her local hospital and residency program. Aleece is also the founder of the Fosnight Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and training of professionals in the sexual health field and providing funding for access to healthcare services in her local community.