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Black Baldwin residents reflect on BLM progress

A year since widespread BLM protests of June 2020

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Black Baldwin resident, Ashley Johnson, said she has experienced too many encounters of first-hand racism to count. Although Johnson said it is too painful for her to mention the exact experiences in which she faced racism, she is glad the Black Lives Matter movement and protests in support of the movement became more frequently discussed and understood by many people starting in June 2020, after George Floyd’s death went viral. 

Now a year later, in June 2021, people everywhere reflect on how things have evolved since the Black Lives Matter protests of last year. Many Black Baldwin residents said that despite more widely spread awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement, racism has not stopped occurring. 

“People want to be under the guise of helping the Black community by putting on performances on social media to make it seem like changes are happening, but nothing has changed,” Johnson said. “ At first there was a lot of passion behind the Black Lives Matter movement, but now that the media has died down on racial issues, not enough is being done for Black rights.” 

Johnson said she hopes more non-Black people would hold more conversations outside of social media to spread awareness about racism and she hopes more people would begin to view the lives of Black men as equally as valuable as the lives of Black women. 

“I’m proud and unapologetically me, and I wish more people would realize that it’s important for Black men and Black women to be recognized as being affected by police brutality,” she said. “I think more white people should have discussions off the phones with their families if they truly are allies.” 

Black and Hispanic, Baldwin resident Chrissy Samuels, who is a retired police officer, said this time last year she attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Baldwin because she wanted to show support for her Black son and husband.

“As a retired police officer, it is hard to hear about police brutality against Black people because I’m Black and I was a cop,” Samuels said. “I’m Black before I’m blue. I’m a Black woman before I’m a police officer. However, I think there are some good cops and some bad cops and there are more good police officers than bad.”

When the murder of George Floyd went viral, Samuels said it disturbed her and she could not finish watching the whole murder video. Although she said she feels justice was served with the Derek Chauvin trial verdict, she said she has noticed small changes occur since the Black Lives Matter protests of June 2020.

“The Black Lives Matter protests made other people of other races more aware of the dilemma that Black people face being in their skin,” she added. “I think a constructive way to handle racism is more education, to keep talking about it and more programs to combat racism.”

For many other Black residents who participated in Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, they said they find few changes have occurred to put an end to racism and racially motivated police brutality.  

Black Baldwin resident, Morgan Fields-Newton said in the summer of 2020 she attended about three protests because she viewed the police brutality as becoming out of hand. She said her mother and stepfather have both been stopped and profiled by the police officers before. 

“It is scary because my whole family is Black or brown, and I pray for them every time they walk out the door because you can never be too sure about their safety and It makes me beyond angry … how much more pain do people have to endure until others realize racism is wrong?” Fields-Newton said.

“Nothing has changed since last summer, and the resentment towards Blacks is stronger than ever,” said Black Baldwin resident Ivy Bushelle. “I believe the Black Lives Matter Movement is not enough.”