Jun. 5, 2020 8:00 am

‘If you think the protests that are happening now are just about convicting a cop, you’re missing the boat’

In his guest column, Less Cardinal wants to help people connect the dots of systemic injustice.

Photo at left: (l to r) Lessie Cardinal Sr., Victoria Lambert Cardinal, Stanley Lambert, Ranjan Cardinal, Lessie Cardinal Jr.; photo at right: Victoria Lambert Cardinal at 18.

(Courtesy photos)

This guest post was written by Less Cardinal, the marketing manager for Technical.ly.
What pulled at my heart the most from the George Floyd video was him calling out for his mama with one of his last breaths.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my mother last night. My mother, Victoria Lambert Cardinal, passed away from heart disease and a stroke at the age of 65 in 2015.

Coincidentally, my sister texted me this morning saying she was thinking about our mom too. I wasn’t sure I would write this, but that was a sign.

I haven’t really slept and I feel mentally exhausted, but I want to help people start connecting the dots of systemic injustice.

My mother was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and from third to eighth grade, she was denied the ability to attend schools. Brown v. The Board of Education stopped school segregation, but Prince Edward County said screw that — no kids (white or Black) will go to school then.

This story was a part of my mother’s testimony.

I cannot imagine the pain she had to endure throughout her childhood, and the effect it had on her silently throughout her life. I wish I knew more stories about her childhood, but she kept us pretty focused on education and this story was effective in doing that.

The most important thing to remember is that her story is not unique — millions of Black children faced this level of oppression throughout childhood just for being Black.

My mother ultimately moved to Pennsylvania, and lived her life without any complaint. My parents gave us a good life, we grew up in the church, and my mother was a very gentle and kind spirit. She helped everyone whether by baking, teaching Sunday School, working as a nurse, missionary, feeding children … I could go on and on.

However, I noticed as I got older that my mother always seemed sad at home. Maybe it was her childhood, or losing a daughter to cancer, I don’t truly know. What I do know is that oppression has societal consequences that white people have long ignored. Cause and effect. The entire system is designed to burden Black people their entire lives.

This is not a sad post, this is a reality that we can change.

Systemic injustice is not just police brutality. It’s the destruction of Black families and communities throughout America.

It’s massive health inequities. It’s the lack of mental health care, lack of hospitals in minority communities, Black people being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. It’s the massive wealth gap between Blacks and whites, Black veterans being denied VA home loans post-WW-II, redlining. It’s generations of Black kids being told they’re “not worthy,” the criminal justice system, the war on drugs. It’s alcoholism, drug dependency, homelessness, gun violence. It’s America.

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And it’s a burden.

I often hear about white people complaining about crime in urban areas. Just so I’m clear: it’s all because of oppression and slavery. This is the system white people built.

Racism is literally everywhere. For example, if you are white, you may have received money for college or your house from when your grandparents passed, and your grandfather might have been able to use GI Bill benefits, or been allowed to buy a house in a nice suburb.

Those experiences largely did not exist for Black families.

They couldn’t build up generational wealth in the same way as their peers, those white grandparents. Think about the effects of that — simply in the past 70 years of American policy — on Black people. That person you judge so harshly for committing a crime, there’s a reason they’re in that life station.

The system is created to ensure the above takes place, it’s not a mistake.

Today, as I write this, Black mothers and fathers will die early deaths because of systemic injustice and racism — though those won’t be identified as the causes of death. People will be told it’s because of their unhealthy lifestyles, but the truth is that in America, socioeconomics and race has a lot to do with it too.

  • The leading cause of death for Black women is heart disease. It’s often called the “silent killer.”
  • Black people will die from the coronavirus at a rate 2.5 times higher than white people. Leaders from both sides know this will happen, and they will do nothing.
  • Black people are less likely to receive mental health care.
  • The Black infant mortality rate is 2.3 times higher than it is for non-Hispanic whites.

If you think the protests that are happening now are just about convicting a cop, you’re missing the boat. Police are cogs in a large system that slowly kills us.

So if everyone understands the impact — what can we do to protect Black lives during the second wave of the coronavirus?


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