Working Toward Social Justice Even on Labor Day

Together We Rise, a social justice group, organizes a teach-in and rally.

People gather a BLM rally in La Palma Park in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by: Jessica Bustos

ANAHEIM - A group of Black Lives Matter organizers spent Labor Day commemorating the struggles that the black community have, and continue to endure through dance, music, poetry and impactful speeches at La Palma Park in Anaheim, Calif.

Amidst political and racial tensions in America, organizers Sherrae Adams and Donald Drake created a space to keep the conversation alive and relevant.

“[These] issues die, until the next person dies, until the next person dies and we don’t stop dying,” said Drake. “I could be next.”

Although these issues continue to provoke anger, “we can be angry and not live angry,” he said.

This was the common theme throughout the rally that had uplifting demonstrations of traditional African dance and live musical performances, brought back to reality with speeches ranging on topics from white fragility to black rage.

Kristen Howerton, author and social justice advocate, spoke on her experience as a white person feeling as if white privilege did not exist.

However, upon taking an African studies course she said she was confusing white privilege with financial privilege and realized that it was “not black people's jobs to teach white people about racism.”

In fact she said that anti-racism work begins with white people using their privilege for good.

“[If] I remove myself from every person in my life who doesn't understand anti-racism, who doesn't understand white privilege and I silence myself with other people who think like me, then who am I leaving anti-racism work to,” Howerton said.

Dr. Jessica Alibi, professor of sociology and gender studies at Orange Coast College, shifted topics and answered the question that according to her many Americans can not understand.

“Why are we so angry?” she asked.

Alibi listed several reasons dating all the way back to the first stolen slaves up until the present-day.

“This country has no conscience,” she said. “We came from the largest continent on this planet, rich with diamonds, gold, Belgium will tell you rubber, oil, everything this world wants that's where we came from.”

“They’ll tell us to go back to Africa now, now that Europe has ravished it … they think we should be grateful for our conditions in the United States,” Alibi said.

Her words explained the palpable tension that polarizes our country today.

According to a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2019, 50 percent of black people in America believe that they will never have equal rights.

However, Sherrae Adams said that although these topics tend to die out she wanted to keep people motivated and uplifted.

And according to Drake, he said the only way towards progress is to keep advocating, elect officials who care about people and hold those in office accountable.

“What's good for black people is not just for black people, it’s for all people,” Drake said.

As the legacy of slavery echoes into the present-day, Yaw Kyeremateng, dancer and traveling speaker, said he is hopeful for the future of race relations in America.

“We are not looking for revenge,” he said.

“We’re just looking for equality and that's all, we just want to exist.”