​ Now is the time to stand for civil rights




(MGN Online)

By Samantha Pree-Stinson
Guest Commentator

As a U.S. soldier, I fought to protect the liberties and safeties of our country. It was beyond humiliating and repulsive to be a victim of hate speech and a hate crime last Friday.

I was waiting for the bus on my way to work when a truck with White men in it slowed down and yelled “I cannot wait for you N***ers to go back to Africa.” I stood frozen, taken by surprise. I had no words and felt completely helpless and violated.

Not five minutes later, a man walked by a Somali woman and spit on her calling her a “Sand N***er.” The thought of whether or not this was going to be my new cross to bear, my reality, was so overwhelming that I almost turned around and went home.

Regardless of how anyone voted it cannot be ignored that hate crimes have increased from seven to 65 percent, and that is just against practitioners of Islam, since the announcement of the new President-Elect Donald trump. Now although that number includes crimes against Trump supporters and voters it is important to remember the message here.

White Nationalists messaging and support currently consists of 22 groups. Some have a non-profit status. Some are religious based and others political based. President Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence have not publically denounced these groups, their support, or their actions. The only announcement was from his transition management team and one interview in which he said that if it helps, “Stop, just stop it.”

That is in no way a stand for the ethical fiber of this country and the work that has been done since the beginnings of occupation by European settlers that started this Nation as we now know it: the United States of America. This work has taken decades upon decades not only for Blacks, but for women and other immigrants as well. The attempt to dismantle this important civil and human rights work has huge implications for the safety and freedom of this country.

I feel betrayed by my incoming Commander in Chief, and lost, because for once in my life I have no answers or comfort at all. When I grew up I always thought that I would go to college, make a name for myself, help people, raise my children, and die an old lady warm in my bed. I never imagined that I would be treated as if I was nothing and as if my life did not matter. I never thought that after all of the work that our ancestors did for us to be free that I, my husband, and my children would be faced with these struggles as those before me had.

This is not a time to focus on our differences. Now more than ever we need to exercise our rights and not only vote, but either run for office or support those who want to. One or two voices speaking up on our behalf is no longer good enough. Turning a blind eye because we do not want to snitch or turning to street justice is counterproductive. In order to incite positive change we have to organize and start educating ourselves.

“There is nothing to fear but fear itself” has never rang more true than it does now. We need to stand up for our human rights, protect our children, and protect ourselves from these White Nationalist terror groups that are on our own soil, who feel like they have a leader that want to Make America White again.

This is not a Black thing; it is a human thing, and we all belong to that race regardless of color. We need to start holding our elected officials accountable and stop making excuses for their lack of action, behavior and abandonment of those they are representing, all of their diverse constituents.

America has always been great, now let’s start working together to make it equitable and stop being selective of who gets to pursue the American Dream. You wake up from dreams, let’s start building the American Reality, one of promise, integrity, and empowerment for all those who seek it.

Samantha Pree-Stinson lives in Northeast Minneapolis.