Growing up in the ’90s and early aughts I never thought by the time I had reached my mid-30’s and bore children I would be facing a racial reckoning and have to remind people that Black Lives Matter. That wasn’t on my radar as a trope for the early 21st century, I thought we had all done the work well before my time. My Grandmother fought this fight. My great grandfather fought this fight.
And then Ferguson happened.
For me, that was my wake-up call.
We all have them.
Maybe it was Trayvon or Sandra.
I think for many it was George Floyd.
And some may never wake up.
Something I’ve known about Omaha for a long time now is that there are many different versions of the city we call home.
Our intrinsic segregation goes well beyond our busing system, it’s in the marrow of who we are as a city. It’s in our media, in our comment sections, in our history and in our politics. We are not all living in the same Omaha, regardless of geography. I would say many don’t know the truth of Omaha the way North and South Omahans do.
The history of this city begins in its marginalized areas. The heart of this city is in the vein of 24th street that runs from north to south, fluent with many experiences, incredible history and teeming with culture not found in the far reaches created by redlines and white flights. When Red Summer was in production, I was awed by how many people hadn’t known of the ghastly lynching that happened right here on their courthouse stairs. Could you tell me who Vivian Strong is? To be Black and from Omaha is not monolithic, despite what the news stories would have you believe. And for me, to be Black and a product of North Omaha is a privilege. And as much as I long to educate, I also long to protect that which I find sacred.
I didn’t think that I would be engaging in conversations on Black liberation movements in 2020. I didn’t think I would ever see a man murdered on my cellphone and have to defend his right to breathe to people that share my area code. I didn’t think I would watch our systems work together to protect a white supremacist after a murder. But here we are. And removed from a world slowed down by a pandemic I don’t think we would’ve gotten this far. I am extremely proud of the work done on this issue, the people contributing make me feel as though there is more hope than sorrow and that together we can divest from oppressive systems and attitudes that have fueled division between us and somehow meld all of these different Omaha’s we call home into one for all.