Today, a New York Times article detailing how to take good photos of tonight’s 4th of July fireworks popped up on my newsfeed. Interested in tips on how to take my photos from “blah” to “wow,” I opened the article.
The first thing I noticed was the byline. The article was written by Amadou Diallo. I thought to myself “Amadou Diallo? Now, that’s ironic.”
For those of you who don’t know, Amadou Diallo was a 22 year-old immigrant from Guinea who was shot and killed by four NYPD officers at his apartment building in the Bronx in February 1999. It was a horrific crime and the story made headlines across the nation. Diallo, who was unarmed, was shot 41 times. This was a man who did not have a criminal record. He did not provoke the officers. He did absolutely nothing to deserve being killed by a firing squad. Yet, the officers, somehow confused, shot him dead. Unfortunately, incidents like this involving innocent black men being killed by police officers has been repeated far too many times in our country. And, of course, like most of the recent cases, the police officers were all acquitted of the terrible murder of Amadou Diallou.
When I saw today’s New York Times article written by a different Amadou Diallo, I thought of our first Amadou Diallo and what his hopes and dreams for a new life in America must have been. Surely, he never thought he'd die by the hands of officers who are supposed to protect us in this great land of liberty. But he was an immigrant of color, the type of immigrant that is often unwanted today despite the fact that our country is a melting pot of the descendants of immigrants, built by the blood, tears and sweat of black slaves and laid on top the bodies and blood of Native Americans who first blessed this land.
Let’s face it. America has a ugly history. But together we can create a more beautiful future for our country, one that isn’t so divisive and that serves ourselves, the world and our environment. But it won’t happen unless we wake up, resist, demand change and work to make it happen!
So after the barbecues, brews and fireworks, what will you do to make America beautiful? What will you do to make America more fair, just and equitable? Who or what will you fight for? Will you demand your rights or let them be taken away?
If nothing else, make sure you’re registered to vote in the upcoming elections and encourage your friends and family to register to vote too. But it doesn’t stop there; you actually have to go to the polls and vote! And make sure you take some friends along with you too.
Get educated on the issues, give a damn, sign a petition for something you believe in, call your representatives, knock on doors for the candidates you support or run for office yourself. Either way, get involved and make your voice heard. The work of a democracy takes all of us.
So, enjoy the barbecue today. Tomorrow, let's rise up and get back to work creating the America of our dreams!
Want to read the New York Times article that inspired this blog post? Click the link below.