By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – As protests continued for a fourth week following the death of George Floyd, supporters warned against apathy, called for the support of marginalized people and for an end to racism.
During a June 20 protest outside the Joseph R. Peterson Justice Building, 2015 Biddle, organizer Precious Gill Smith of Taylor called for protesters to continue to rally against the injustices done against people of color and others.
“We are free, but why are we still fighting for equal rights?” she asked. “How are we different from everyone else? How come we don’t matter? Well, I am telling you, black lives matter!”
Wyandotte native Savannah Skinner, who is biracial, said a cross was burned on her Wyandotte front lawn in 1996.
“My grandparents and mother lost many friends in this city because she chose the ultimate sin, to love a black man,” Skinner said. “Once I was old enough for school, I learned the truth about Wyandotte.”
She said that when she was in second grade, she learned what the N-word meant, when her first-grade brother was called the name during recess.
Skinner said that when her little brother hit a neighbor’s tree while riding his bike, the neighbor rushed outside, not concerned about whether her brother was hurt, but furious about possible damage to his tree. The neighbor threw her brother onto the sidewalk and started swearing at the child.
She said when she was in fourth grade, she developed a crush on a boy, and two years later, she worked up the courage to tell him how she felt.
“He laughed in my face, and said, ‘I only like white milk, not chocolate milk,’” Skinner said. “It was then I decided that no one in Wyandotte would like me because I am black.”
In ninth grade, when a student called her the N-word, she was told by the principal to “just let it go” because “she said some mean things, too.” She said her abuser faced no consequences.
Ali Nahdee, who is black and native American, said she used to consider herself as “hiding in plain sight,” since her appearance usually shielded her from overt racism from strangers.
“If people don’t think you are an Indian, they let you know exactly what they think about Indians,” she said. “I was actually fired from my job at Walgreens because a customer found out that my dad was Indian, and he would specifically come into the store to say racist things to me.”
When Nahdee finally confronted him about his harassment, he continued to bait her and complained to her manager, which resulted in her job loss.
Nahdee urged attendees to fight against apathy.
“Apathy is death,” she said, quoting from a “Star Wars” movie. “You have to say something.”
Ypsilanti resident Rachel Wilson, who is biracial, said she has racism directed at her by white family members.
“My mom’s side of the family is really racist,” she said. “But I have also experienced it in my school, in my colleges, at my job, and even at the protests.”
Wilson said she became aware of racism when she was very young.
“When I was in middle school, a girl asked me, ‘Is that your real hair?” she said, adding that the girl accused her of “mimicking white hair.”
Wilson said her white grandfather threatened to shoot her white mother when she was pregnant with her, because he did not want a biracial grandchild.
“I have been met with so much hatred and misunderstanding and confusion, that it breaks my heart,” she said.
Wilson said that one time, when she got into a verbal argument with her mother, her mother threatened to call the police and “pull her white card,” and threatened to say that “the black girl put her hands on me.”
“I am up here today to make sure that everybody understands that all lives can’t matter until black lives matter,” she said. “I will continue to fight for all of us, and for everybody who doesn’t have a voice.”
JohnNae Reynolds of Lincoln Park urged the protesters to continue to support human dignity for all.
“Apathy must end,” she said. “I want to challenge you. It’s not a black issue. It is not a white issue. It’s not a civilian issue. It’s not a police issue. It’s a human issue.”