Written by Claudia Amaro
Black Lives Matter, I Can't Breathe, and other phrases have been on our minds and social media in recent days. In English and Spanish, community members have been demonstrating after George Floyd's death by a police officer in Minneapolis Minnesota. Systemic racism has existed in the United States for many years. It is a struggle that did not end in the 1960's despite the achievements of great leaders such as Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks for their African-American community. Our Hispanic culture is not familiarized with such movements because the history of our countries of origin is very different. The culture of distance of power is very different and sometimes we are surprised or do not understand the different ways of manifesting publicly.
Most of us agree that violence is not necessary, however, certain situations have gotten out of control, like what happened last Tuesday morning in the northern area of Wichita, specifically in the 21st and Arkansas' intersection, an area known as the Mexican/Hispanic side, when a demonstration began peacefully and ended with wounded police officers and shattered property. This situation has divided opinions even within our Hispanic community, encouraging judging and heated discussions on social media. Who were they? What are they trying to prove? What exactly do they want? So many questions and little or no answers at this point.
Leaders and members of our community are expressing how they feel.
State Representative Ponka We Victors told us this morning "I'm in Topeka for the special legislative session that's taking place right now, but my heart is broken for our community. I wish I could be there. I feel like our community needs to heal."
A group of Hispanic leaders have come together to send a statement to the Wichita community. This statement will be read publicly on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 6 PM at the corner of Arkansas and 21st St N. The statement reads as follows:
Latino community calls for justice and reform
Today, the Latino community calls to address the social and racial injustice in America impacting communities of color. We stand in solidarity with the fight against racism and injustices directed at our Black/African American community.
We understand the outpouring of peaceful protests and nonviolent gatherings happening around Wichita and the country because of the countless deaths and lynching of black people. It is unacceptable that far too many black and brown people live in constant fear of losing their lives in this country. We are aware of what has transpired at 21st and Arkansas, and based on what we have seen, we understand there is trauma in our communities. We want to listen to the people who want to be heard.
We must come together now as communities of color, as Wichitans, to advocate for resources and address the years of disinvestment from our government. As allies, neighbors, friends, business leaders, and decision makers we must stop racism and discrimination and promote reforms in education, housing, job creation, and economic development opportunities.
As we move forward, we will continue to work alongside those who want to make our community better. We will meet with our elected officials, our law enforcement, and any other community members we need to create change. Trust, we will hold these individuals accountable.
The Latino community stands with our Black brothers and sisters to fight against systemic inequalities. We want to bring about action to dismantle racism, declare discrimination is wrong, and that #BlackLivesMatter. “Tu Lucha is Mi Lucha.” Your struggle is my struggle.”
Other members of the community have expressed their concern. Martin Garcia, a veteran military man who was born and raised in that area of Wichita is organizing a peaceful march this afternoon at 7:00 pm in Nomar, alongside business owners and area residents "I am organizing the peaceful march to show that Northside residents are dedicated to justice and peace for all. Hate and looting will only lead us down a path of destruction. "Martin told us about the demonstration of peace and healing that he hopes will take place this afternoon.