I write in support of black lives and the changes happening in our society. We live in a time where people who are harmed the most and given the least amount of opportunity are expected to prove the value of their lives. Our Brookhaven/Buford Highway community is made up of many people. It is made up of different voices, religions, and values that all come together and create the Buford Highway community. We have a responsibility to actively do something about this, because these issues affect us all and more negatively affect black people and Afro-Latinos in our communities. As people who are affected by prejudice and racism, we understand that being pulled over could mean you will not see your family again. We know what it feels to be taken out of our own homes and taken to a faraway place. We know how it feels to be harmed by a society that we proudly lay the cement for and build with our own hands. We know how it feels to say your truth and be told that it’s not good enough. We know how it feels to be placed at the bottom of the list.

But I do not know what it is to be a black person in this world, and I do not know what it means to be a black person in the United States. I am only one person, but I ask anyone reading this letter to look inside of themselves and ask if they are doing the right thing and going to do right by their friends and their family. Do the right thing and support black lives. I ask that we take the moment to reflect on the values we hold close to our hearts and ask if we will idly stand by and watch people we know, people we love and people whom we see ourselves be harmed as we wait for things to get better. Now is the time to see ourselves in George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and all black lives and do something about the injustices we see in the world.

As a community, we have a responsibility to care for each other and a responsibility to care for black lives. We have to do the right thing and have these difficult conversations even if they challenge old beliefs. I ask that we be understanding and think about how when you do the right thing, when you follow the law, and when you tell the truth, you can still be harmed by police in this country. We have to actively play a part in changing the world around us and that may be through protesting, through volunteering, or through financial support, but we must do something and give each other the opportunity to learn and change.

Marco Palma

Editor’s note: The writer is president of the nonprofit Los Vecinos de Buford Highway but is writing as a private resident.

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