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Think Global, Act Local: Open Letter To George Floyd

Sir George Floyd: 

On Saturday, August 15, a friend and I drove to Minneapolis to the site where you were murdered. You will not believe how your humble and magnetic presence can still be felt. It has been completely changed from a regular neighborhood to a healing space for people from all walks of life. A myriad of feelings came to me when I entered the now barricaded area where people can come to pay homage to the honorable person that you were, are and will forever be. 

It is bothering that once again it took a brutal killing shared on social media to spark massive indignation when so many lives of BIPOC women and men are taken daily, but because no cameras are around, they go unnoticed. This time, the people said enough is enough, surprisingly people in power and many people were appalled by the riots, but perhaps they didn’t know that such behaviors were learned from a nefarious but well-hidden past: 

May 31 to June 1, 1921’s Tulsa Race Massacre or Rosewood Massacre in 1923… 
In these “perceived” social turbulent times we live, such conversations are vital.
I use precisely the word “perceived” because, for BIPOCs since 1492 when Columbus set foot on Turtle Island, times have always been turbulent and rarely spiritually, emotionally, physically and civically peaceful. 

Since your murder, there has been a sudden awakening from the white silent majority around the globe. The one Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about in his April 16, 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” 

It is hard emotionally, physically and spiritually to have to be on so many forefronts: educating white allies, while simultaneously fighting to dismantle a combative powerful system that has centuries-old roots in this nation. This noble fight by the people for the people is simply to honor the words dearly enshrined in the 1776 American Constitution: that everyone in this indigenous land is created equal and that its people stand as one nation under God. Am I too hopeful to believe that one day these delicately enshrined words will become a reality? Time will tell… 

Since your murder, here in the Red River Valley, which is four hours from the site where you repeated with dignity, “I can’t breathe,” a lot has happened you would be proud of us for. It is the first steps people in our community are taking in this 1000 miles journey to Equity and Justice for all:

1. There was a historical May 30th peaceful day protest organized by honorable local Black women activists from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Red River Valley residents from all walks of life and all ages gathered, despite COVID-19. This was paramount to show up for Justice and Equity for all to ensure the generations to come wouldn’t have to relive such a traumatic event: another BIPOC being brutally murdered by someone who honorably had sworn to serve and protect you. 

2. Juneteenth was celebrated. June 19, 1865, is the day where the last African slaves in the USA were finally free.

3. An all-day festival called Joyfest was organized by Frederick Edwards Jr. and Faith4Hope  on Saturday, July 25 to bring joy and to heal the community: the response and support from businesses, local leaders, law enforcement and the community at large was heartwarming and fueled the hope for a better tomorrow together as one community.

4. There has been a lot of conversations on Justice and Equity for all at City Hall, where local BIPOC activists show up strong and are democratically challenging elected officials. This is American democracy at its best, but it is not without the friction of course. Friction can create both positive and negative outcomes. Therefore, I hope that the social justice movement has created an energy that will move us forward and not backward. 

5. The youth here, across the nation and all around the world are so inspiring and they have genuinely galvanized this movement for change. 

Since your murder, I have had many concerned relatives and friends all around the world asking why am I still in the USA? Why don’t I just leave and go back to my safe and beautiful Land of a 1000 Hills: Rwanda? I often ponder the reasons why I cannot capitulate on the Red River Valley. There are many that I could list here but one of the main reasons is because I have the luxury of choosing to stay here or to move back to my homeland – whereas many BIPOCs have nowhere else to call home because this indigenous land is theirs, despite the nefarious forces telling them otherwise. 

Lastly, thank you for watching over us all every time as we march for Justice and Equity. 

Until we meet alongside our Creator: 
Rest in Eternal Power! 
Your Rwandan nephew that loves you, 

Alexandre Cyusa 

PS: I wrote you this letter while listening to our honorable and inspiring Shangazi Dr. Maya Angelou’s “ On the Pulse of the Morning”.

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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