(#33 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)
Back in May 2015, Olinka Green was attacked by people in power who were supposedly there to protect her. Yet unlike so many victims of police brutality, Olinka lived to tell about it.
As I sat in the Interfaith Peace Chapel Thursday night (July 30) listening to her tell her story, I could not believe what I was hearing. Officers–who swore an oath to protect and defend all citizens–had brutalized this woman and then tried to turn it around on her.
How many times are we going to hear this story? How many more people of color must experience this kind of treatment by white men—and in Olinka’s case, a white woman—with a badge and gun?
Conveniently, the video of what happened is unavailable. (mm-hmmm.)
Fortunately, Olinka was no-billed by a grand jury. (ya think?!)
Incredibly, Olinka did not suffer the same fate as Sandra Bland.
Olinka credits #BlackLivesMatters for saving her life. She said peoples’ actions changed when she asserted that HER LIFE MATTERED. And when said she could not breathe, she let them know they were not going to take her life. And because she lived, she’s using her life to call for reform and a change in this country:
“If we’re silent, then it’s ok for us to die.
I’M NOT GOING TO BE SILENT.”
And we shouldn’t be either.
And then Olinka said some things I did not expect:
Let me tell you something: if you’re gay–you’re black. If you’re black–you’re gay. You had pink triangles…we had shackles. You had Stonewall…we had Ferguson. We are in this together.
My goodness! This woman whose life was almost taken from her is now leveraging her passion to take a stand for me. How dare I not respond in-kind and take a stand with her?!
How dare any of us not.
And as she spoke, and grieved, and then was silent—it hit me: I am leaving for just exactly this purpose, to fight for people like her and to wake up people like me.
You see, as a white man, I will never be confronted with my race. I will not be pulled over because I’m white. In fact, I will be treated better and with more dignity because I am white. And yet I see white people of faith paralyzed with inaction, not understanding that their God calls them to use their privilege to let the world know that it is immoral, unchristian, ungodly—whatever you want to call it—to treat people badly. That includes poor people. Black people.Transgender people. Immigrants. Mentally ill people. ANY. ONE.
Olinka’s words are still resonating in my mind and spirit; I remain unsettled. She challenged me and probably didn’t even know as she warned anyone who will put their bodies and lives into this movement:
“When you’re calling for righteousness, you become a target.”
I accept that challenge and will do my damnedest to change this world so that we can say—and by our actions show—that ALL lives do matter.
34. leading by example