By Tabitha Barr / Special to the Collegian
As a white woman in America, I have white privilege in my blood. I want to speak out for those who have been silenced for too long. This is my account of the protest I attended in Hutchinson.
On Sunday, May 31, the Hutchinson community came together to protest the death of George Floyd and all of the innocent deaths of black lives at the hands of police. I had joined the Facebook event as soon as it popped up on my feed. As an ally of Black Lives Matter, and all people of color, I knew that this protest was monumental. I knew it was my duty to not just attend, but to use my platform of being an employee of a news source to document it to the public.
I was not only the past Editor In Chief of The Hutchinson Collegian, but I also work for HutchPost, the website of Eagle Communications. My work at HutchPost has mostly been menial, but I do have the opportunity to do something bigger. After talking to my writers, I got the go-ahead to be the photojournalist for the protest.
I was eager to be out there, but also nervous. I had never been to a protest, especially not as a journalist. Being an unbiased source is important when reporting the news. But I learned quickly that it’s not easy when I feel passionate about what I’m reporting. I’m glad I got to be there in a professional setting, but I think I’d rather be participating in the protest than be documenting it. Mainly because it’s something I support, and I want to be an ally in a time of injustice.
Sunday morning came, and I was ready. I wanted to check out the area where things were going to be happening and where it was going to be best to park. It was two hours before the protest was set to start, but one man was already there to take a stand.
Daniel Benitah was kneeling alone in front of the courthouse to peacefully fight the injustice happening in the United States. When I saw him kneeling, I knew I had to get a picture to document it.
After taking pictures, I spoke to Benitah. He was kind in his words and was ready for anything to happen. He had brought a gallon of milk in case of tear gas, a gallon of water to stay hydrated, a mask and a backpack. I wish I would have talked longer to him and actually use my journalist skills, but I was in awe of his drive. That showed courage and strength. That is what we need right now.
Then it came time for the actual protest. I was wearing my media badge and had my phone ready for pictures and video. It was a sight to see. Hundreds of people were gathered with signs and ready to be heard. People gathered for black lives and the injustice that has and is happening.
The emotions were incredible. For photos, I needed to be up-close, and I could feel how passionate people were. They want justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and every single black life that has been killed for the color of their skin.
For a country that is so divided, these people came together to get justice for those lives who have been lost too soon. I wanted to be right there chanting beside them, but I stood apart for my job and chanted inside my head.
The protest was peaceful but showed the community how important it is that Black Lives Matter.
My social media has been nothing but fighting for the cause. I’ve unfriended a lot of people who can’t understand basic human rights. I don’t care if you are my family or some of my closest friends. If you don’t believe that Black Lives Matter, or if your instant response to hearing black lives matter is ‘actually, all lives matter’, as if that wasn’t the whole point, you are a part of the problem. I don’t care if you have black family or black friends. If you can’t at least try to understand the #BlackLivesMatter movement, you are racist. There’s no debate.
I hate that this nation has people who can’t understand basic human rights. Black lives matter. Police brutality is real. If you don’t get it, ask George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others. But you can’t because they were killed solely because of the color of their skin.
Tabitha Barr is an alumna of Hutchinson Community College from Nickerson. She was The Collegian’s Editor In Chief during the 2019-2020 school year.