That was what Eric Garner said moments before he was killed. It also was one of the chants at last night’s demonstration in Asheville, where we shut down Biltmore Avenue for a time.
But when my friend, Noel Nickle and I wanted to sing, “We Shall Overcome,” many of the young people there didn’t know it. So she and I sang it, and a few people joined in.
To us, the singing was about building something, not just shutting something down.
Yes, racism must be shut down. The fatal flaws in out so-called justice system need to be shut down.
But then what?
It’s one thing to insist something evil be torn down, but it must be replaced with something better.
If “this stops today,” then what do we begin tomorrow?
How do we build a more just society?
That’s what we need to be thinking about.
Last night in Asheville, we chanted and sang, we shut down Biltmore Avenue and marched through downtown.
We have demonstrated our anger and frustration.
How do we get people to respect each other as fellow human beings?
I know I live with white privilege. I don’t ever have to think about the color of my skin or whether I’m being pulled over for driving while black.
I met a young man last night who I hope will become a friend for life. We were talking about our different perspectives, and how we were able to reach the same conclusions about the injustice that’s so pervasive in our culture.
“Don’t tell me it isn’t about race when I’m 21 times more likely to be shot by a police officer than a white man my age,” he said.
Keith Knox Jr. is a senior at UNC Asheville, majoring in political science. He plans to get a master’s degree in public policy and then go to law school — a similar path to the one my late son wanted to take before he died from neglect.
As Keith and I talked about what we would like to see happen, a television reporter walked over to interview us.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” he said.
Why were we there? What enraged us enough to come out to protest?
I gave my usual answer: that Michael brown could have been my kid or my grandson, and that each of these fallen young men is part of my human family. Whatever you do to the least of these, you do also to me.
Keith answered the question with one of his own: “Why should I be expected to pledge allegiance to a country that won’t respect me?”
There was a lot of energy, as there has been at all of the protests across the country.
We have taken to the streets.