The Time for Silence is Over

Remarks from Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes

I have spent years working in politics. Much of it in communications. For years, I counseled elected officials and candidates to stay away from drama, stay on message, don’t be driven by the headlines. This formula worked well. My job today would be to say: what you are witnessing is a formulative and contrived plan to suppress the Black vote. It is going to continue and evolve into more regional strategies based on what they believe they need to do to incite unrest. To fight it, we need to vote. We all need to vote.

I don’t want to talk about that right now. The time for silence is over. It is time to challenge, time to have uncomfortable conversations with people that are not ready to have them. It is time to risk some friendships, time to make waves at work, time to recognize that we are past politics now. I do the work I do to make the world a better place for my kids. This does not seem to be working.

If you support Donald Trump, you are a racist. Here is where it gets tricky and uncomfortable. Donald Trump is a racist, and if being a racist is not a dealbreaker for you, you are the reason Black people are being murdered for being Black..

We have arrived at the turning point, where silence is not an option. I hope we can all see the difference between protesting and rioting. There is so much anger, I am angry also, but I am not moved by pleas for understanding. Here is what I want to see: I want the economic oppression of Black communities to stop, including holding the oppressors accountable. I want meaningful criminal justice reform. And I want law enforcement to actually do their jobs and prosecute hate crimes, and when law enforcement participates in racist conduct I want them held accountable — not by the prosecutors and colleagues they work with every day, but by an independent body, that they hold no sway over.

Demand these things of your elected officials, they do have the power to make those changes. Here is what they hope for, that we get tired and go away. Go off message so to speak. We must sustain the message and do this hard work, for our kids that are following us, and to honor the work of the generations that fought before us. Go along to get along is over.

The time for silence is over.

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