We can’t stop.
I know we are tired, hurt and frustrated. I know.
Bill Withers, a pioneer of Black soul music who was born in 1938 and died in March, wrote a song called “Lean on Me” in 1971, right after the decade-long struggle of the Civil Rights Movement. They were tired, hurt and frustrated then too, Black Indianapolis.
But we can’t stop.
Many Black people reference this song of accountability in times of despair. “Lean on Me” talks about where you can go when you’ve lost the strength to move forward, and who you can depend on when you need a friend during times of hopelessness. Today our hearts are heavy and our feet weary — we need a little “Lean on Me.”
Or maybe we need a little “Lean on Millennials.”
This millennial generation grew up with a Black president, hip-hop, interracial relationships as the norm, social media and Starbucks.
They’ve seen Black leadership at its best. They represent a music culture that instructs world popular culture. They intermingle and intertwine with all races. They’ve mastered communication and technology through social media — all while enjoying a double-blended vanilla chai Frappuccino, hold the whip.
How many times have older adults questioned the behavior and sense of entitlement of millennials?
Well guess what? Their behavior and sense of entitlement has the world on its head and a country in timeout. They feel they are entitled to justice, and they aren’t asking for it.
This protest was led and orchestrated by the youth. These young people popped it off. They’ve done what so many of us have failed to do since the Civil Rights Movement — demand justice. Not request, but demand. Not pander, but protest. This movement for equality would not be a movement of this magnitude without the courage and energy of America’s youth.
I’m not going to condone or condemn or question any actions that we’ve seen from protesters during this movement, during this moment. Our millennial generation has seized this opportunity to ignite the flame that will burn through hatred.
Our millennial generation has orchestrated protests from Minneapolis to Montreal. The display of world-wide demonstrations of unity attacking white privilege and denouncing racism is flabbergasting. I’m literally stunned to see the level of world-wide support given to Black Americans during this time of true despair.
Nathaniel Rhodes, a participant in the Indianapolis protests and an example of this new wave of courage and activism said, “It’s more obvious than ever before what kind of world we are living in, and we will continue to live in this kind of world if we don’t begin fighting to change it right now. The answer isn’t black and white, it’s right and very, very much wrong.”
Rhodes, like many other participants, is simply not going to stand for injustice or any forms of racism. This millennial generation isn’t asking any more questions — they are demanding answers (and action).
We’ve passed the baton to get the movement started and the moment began. Now, we must continue as a collective to create more moments and generate the momentum required to finish the marathon.
These protests are only the beginning. The marathon will continue.
Nieces and nephews — young kings and queens — thank you.
Thank you for your advocacy. Thank you for your energy and fresh legs. Thank you for fighting, for throwing a strong haymaker to the temple of intolerance. Thank you for channeling the quintessence of our ancestors to keep the momentum going on the locomotive Curtis Mayfield told us to board. Thank you for reminding us that we can and should fight. You’ve shown us that we can still mobilize. You’ve shown us the truest depiction of “Lean on Me” — and now, we must all lean on each other.
Alan Bacon is a humanity advocate, community leader, musician and innovator. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.