Saturday, the 12th day/night of protests in Memphis, included this Downtown demonstration proceeding east on G.E. Patterson, making the turn north onto South Main. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)
TSD’s All Over Town columnist Brianna A. Smith

Symbolic black squares – often accompanied by #BlackoutTuesday, #BlackLivesMatter and #TheShowMustBePaused – blanketed social media, particularly Instagram, on a day (June 2) designated to go silent on social media, reflect on recent events and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

….Breonna Taylor! Ahmaud Arbery! Tony McDade…George Floyd! All names on a painful timeline that predates the forming of the country. Now there is fever-pitch push to change the course of the future, with discussions and conversations going on around the clock on multiple levels.

As the TSD’s All Over Town columnist, I have a platform. As a human, I have a duty to say that the fact that Mr. Floyd was even arrested, let alone killed, for the “offense” of forgery amid a pandemic that continues to disproportionately take African-American lives and threatens their livelihoods is a chilling affirmation that for many, black lives still do not matter in the United States.

We do matter!

Millennials are prominently at the forefront of the country’s shifting racial landscape and active participants in the national discourse on race. We – I among them – are no longer limited to traditional forms of civic engagement. We have available to us an expanding array of tech tools for sharing our political and social views and opinions.

These tools greatly enhance our opportunities to unite with likeminded people beyond geography while pushing the needle on issues we care about – most prominently at the moment being the blatant racism in policing and the killing of African Americans by law enforcement.

Not long ago, I shared with my All Over Town readers my account of a virtual event hosted by artist and activist Jordan Occasionally. Recently, we hooked up again and talked about that corps issue.

Jordan “JD” Occasionally. (Photo:

“As a black queer woman who has grown up in the South, I have seen and experienced police brutality for years. And I knew it wasn’t the norm. And I knew that sharing hashtags weren’t enough. Every year, we bury more black bodies just for being black. And this is not just in America, this is all over the world,” she said.

“Finally, we’ve reached a moment in history where the whole world is tired and angry. There’s no more, ‘It’s a black issue.’  There’s finally solidarity with black lives. This has become a global issue.

“We have to stop this! There is no reason why a black man or a black woman should be killed by a law enforcer for asking a single question.”

The solution, she said, is to dismantle white supremacy.

“The police department was the first slave patrol, and in its evolution, it has continued to uphold white supremacy and white respectability politics. From black people being too loud, too sexual, too proud,  these are all too much for police officers. And we are tired,” she said.

“And the world is finally doing something to stop this. And we won’t stop protesting until every cop is held accountable for this. Because every cop knows about the racist they work with, and these racists go on to hire other racists to uphold a system that murders black people.

“So we will not be silent until we don’t have to worry about our kids and their kids ever marching again for this.”

Lorenzo Herman (Facebook)

The push for change has stirred some to try to marginalize those who have taken to the streets. Lorenzo Herman, my fiancé and a black man’s opinion I care about deeply, is not having any of that.

“Materials can be replaced. Production lines will be reestablished. Businesses will reopen. Glass will be replaced. Money will be remade. Patronage will return. But when life ends…it ends,” he told me.

“George Floyd’s life can’t be replaced, rebuilt, nor remade. He will not return to this earthly realm. Keep that in mind when you marginalize protesters, rioters, and looters. The value of whatever is destroyed is still no comparison to the value of the lives that are routinely taken.”

After I turned this column in, the editor sent me a question:

“Is there anything that you have started doing, are doing differently and/or have stopped doing as a result of the movement that is taking root in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and its galvanizing effect re: doing something about the systemic, underlying problem?”

I’ll end the column with my response:

“More recently I’ve been looking for ways to show my solidarity with those who are protesting the continual racial injustices that have been happening in our country long before the murders of many were recognized and recorded.

 “I’ve been more intentional about circulating my dollar with business owners who look like me. I’m a firm believer in #EconomicBoycotts.

 “I have also been reading, signing and sharing petitions, sending emails to demand justice for the recent deaths, and I’ve donated to the local bail fund designed to aid protesters.

 “As well as I’ve been active in starting dialogue and conversations with my peers about the importance of voting, educating others on our enriched history, the importance of circulating the black dollar, and what can we do to move forward, unified and organized.”

(Petitions for your consideration: