It was an honor to March for Black Lives with our community of Apopka, to participate in this historic moment in our country and in our local community. It was amazing to see people from various backgrounds and ages come together in one collective voice to speak out against injustice. Our greatest impact, our strongest voice is the collective voice of the community and we are truly thankful to be part of a community that strengthens us and challenges us to grow. Young leaders, churches, medical workers, educators, first responders, and elected officials marched for justice and engaged in a dialogue of hope and reconciliation. Organizers and volunteers passed out water and snacks, face masks, and provided sanitizer and information resources. Our community policing officer, who has a huge heart for this community arrived early and made sure the organizers had everything they needed and even trimmed the hedges to make sure the speaker stage area was as perfect as it could be. About a thousand people gathered despite the rain and we began the march together from Kit Land Nelson Park to the Apopka Police Department. It was at the police station where we knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in silence to remember George Floyd.
Create Bridge Media is a husband and wife team and much of what drives our passion is the legacy that we want to build for our children. I love the innocence of my daughter, Eliza who smiles and waves at everyone she meets proclaiming, “Hi friend!” She doesn’t think in terms of black and white but in a rainbow of colors. (actually mostly pink and purple) I wish this would be the world she always knows but I’m also burdened by the day my heart broke when my son, Liam came home from the school bus in tears. A child told him that he couldn’t sit with or be friends with his black friend because he isn’t black. I was sad for my son but I’m also sad for that other little boy who at some point was told that black and white (Latino) kids can’t be friends. Some of my son’s greatest influences in his life are young black men. They are there for him in moments when I’m not able to be and they step in and love him and teach him what it is to love others. I am forever thankful for these friends. I can’t always protect my children from the hate they see in the world, but the best I can do is encourage them to love and to grow into the types of young people that organized this event. They are not afraid to take a stand against injustice. My kids have also had the wonderful opportunity to have hands on experience with first responders, to hear their stories of sacrifice and courage. Some of my closest friends and mentors are police officers and I don’t ever want them to be seen as less than heroes but the sad reality is, with any position of power there are people who abuse it. I don’t want my kids to be ignorant of that either.
My greatest desire is to see justice and healing in the community for everyone. I don’t want to see division and I want people to be able to rely on police in their time of need. There must be restoration and healing but bridges cannot be created until we first stop and listen. We must have empathy for each other. There cannot be any progress, any forward advancements until we all agree on the very simple truth: Black Lives Matter. The lives of my friends, my family matter. I think about the saddest moments in my own life and how isolating it can feel when no one else has experienced what you have experienced. I think a common mistake that we make is to think that we have to understand someone’s pain or try and relate to someone’s struggle in order to help. But I don’t necessarily think that understanding is required to have empathy or to show compassion. The most important thing isn’t that you understand, it’s showing that you care. The reality is I can never truly understand what it is like to walk in a black man’s shoes and experience what you experience every day but I can do my best to be a friend, to listen and walk alongside you. It’s time. It’s time we all get up and march down this path together.