While many white people are getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement for the first time, Black men and women across America have endured systemic racism and racist attacks all their lives. White people have the privilege of choosing to educate themselves on the experience of being Black in America, but for those like Real Housewives of Atlanta star Porsha Williams, racism isn’t a chapter in a book — it’s her lived experience, starting in childhood. Williams described her first experience with racism, an assault from the KKK at age six that left her running scared.
Williams was at a civil rights march with her grandfather, prominent activist Hosea Williams, when she had her first experience of violent racism. “We came across Ku Klux Klan who decided they were going to protest our protest,” Williams explained on Watch What Happens Live. “They threw rocks at us. I actually got hit with one. They chased us all the way back to the buses. We had busloads of people with us and they chased us back to the buses and called us the n-word and anything else you could imagine the KKK would be calling us.”
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While Williams has experienced racism all her life, she’s hopeful that this moment, sparked by outrage over the killing of George Floyd and stoked by the police’s brutality against protestors, will bring about real change.
“What I got out of that was to keep on, regardless,” she said of that first brush with the KKK. “The movement is still continuing on and I think that’s what’s inside of me that’s not going to stop. I know a lot of people are protesting now and I know a lot of times when the media stops covering it, it kind of dies down and ends. But it’s not going to stop this time.”
So, what change does Williams want to see? “I actually want complete police reform. I want the system to be completely changed. The way it is set up right now, say here in Atlanta, with our law, a policeman can say, ‘I felt my life was threatened.’ So, at the end of the day, who is to say if his life was threatened or not?”
Williams is exactly right — this lack of accountability for police officers is unacceptable, and a complete overturning of our police system is absolutely called for. If you don’t yet understand your place in fighting racism, think of Williams at age six, being pelted with rocks and hearing slurs screamed after her as she ran. That racism and hatred lies deep in America’s foundation, and we will have to work long and hard to root it out. But I can’t think of a cause more worthwhile than making sure no one ever experiences what Porsha Williams, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and so many more have suffered ever again.
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