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Essays on Civic Engagement

This Is Your Democracy

From Anger to Action

Meng Ling Shrewsbury

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old Black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told police that Mr. Floyd bought cigarettes with a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious, pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.

When I heard the tragic news about what happened to George Floyd, I was angry. Mr. Floyd did not deserve to die. Unfortunately, this is not the only time this has happened to a Black person: similar tragedies happened to Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor.  

Because I strongly believe this situation must change, I felt the need to support the Black Lives Matter movement.  I searched for BLM information online. I followed Black Lives Matter on Twitter, and made a comment supporting BLM. I also put a BLM sign on my front door so people would take notice when they walked by. 

When a Black Lives Matter protest was held in Boston, I did not hesitate to participate. I am Asian, a minority in the United States, and wanted to speak up for Black people, to bring justice, healing, and freedom to them. No matter what color skin we have, we are united. 

To build a safe and harmonious community, I think about making my own contributions like others do.

I believe what we did was not just for Black people; if everyone speaks out when something is wrong, it will make a difference. We demanded justice against racism and called for policing reform. 

It turned out that justice was done when the policeman who killed George Floyd was put in jail. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act on June 8, 2020. 

There are other ways I’ve become more civically involved. I’ve been living in my community for quite a while, and every time I ask for help, people help me. To build a safe and harmonious community, I think about making my own contributions like others do.

When the pandemic broke out in March 2020, face masks were sold out everywhere. I tried to buy masks online, but no luck. Then I asked my friend in China to buy a bunch and ship them to me. When I got them, I wanted to help my neighbors. So, I put some masks in front of my house and invited them to take a mask if they needed one. All the masks were taken, and I got some thank-you notes in return.  People were grateful for what I did. 

This experience made me happy because I was helping people. I will keep doing whatever I am capable of to help people in the community, like attending city council meetings, participating in community activities, and volunteering. They are all on my “to-do” list!

Civic engagement, whether it is supporting the BLM movement or helping my neighbors, makes me a better person. I would love to get more civically involved in the future!

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