Though some progress in overcoming racism, still more needed

Racism has always been around with us. Racism is when someone makes fun of, jokes about or even harasses another because of a person’s skin, lifestyle, hairstyle or behavioral traits, etc. When we hear racism, we think of white being racist to the black, but it can be the other way around. It doesn’t always have to  be white and black either because racism can touch everyone—Asian, Russian, African, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, hispanic or Pacific Islander and so much more. 

It also can touch every community, and Cedar Falls is no exception. Cedar Falls has had a handful of protests in town including protests on Main Street with the No Ban No Wall, Cedar Falls Public Safety Office, Cedar Falls High School and a school walkout at Holmes Junior High.  

The protest at Cedar Falls High School was in response when in the school year of 2020-2021, a CFHS student put the n-word on a cookie and posted it online. The protest at Cedar Falls High School was for “It is not OK to say the word.” 

I was there  to experience and support it, and I got to say having a lot of people coming out to protest just means a lot. There were a lot of speakers like Joyce Levingston, a Cedar Falls parent and organizer with Black Lives Matter, and Kevin McCullough. It was wonderful to hear them talking and telling their story so we can see where they’re coming from and see what they had to go through.

On June 5, 2020, there was a peaceful protest against police brutality in Cedar Falls. The protest took place at the Cedar Falls public safety office. The mayor of Cedar Falls and Public Safety Director Jeff Olsen were there to support  the peaceful protest. As a Cedar Valley, the communities of Cedar Falls, Waterloo and Evansdale came together as one to support the need to bring awareness to police brutality. Participants after marching all fell to one knee and stayed like that for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor George Floyd.

The No Ban No Wall Protest took place on Main Street in Cedar Falls on Feb. 5 to protest for their political beliefs. On College Hill you could see protesters preparing for the protest like writing, “Welcome to Iowa. You belong in Iowa,” and so many other things written on posters. This was a response to a bar that banned someone because of their religion.

I had a talk with author Joshalyn “Rocki” Hickey from the “Rocki and Chaveevah” North End Update show. They are a local duo that have a talk show about the good things that are happening in the Waterloo community that especially concerns its black citizens. They aim to highlight the positives in the community rather than the negatives.  Hickey said her worst experiences of racial discord as a black woman in the Cedar Valley were the riots in fall of 1968.  “After Martin Luther King died in 1968, I believe it was, that  the riots downtown would be the worst time when the Shepherd Lumber Company got burnt down and other things on the east side, and for those who say why did black people tear up their own neighborhood,” Hickey said, “They got tired of waiting patiently. So I say, 1968 was the worst time I had seen in Cedar Valley.” 

Hickey said in current times, “I think after Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor and all the other people that led up to George Floyd. George Floyd being executed on a national stage was the straw that broke the camel’s back where people started to bang on that door for food for real and everybody denied it. That was a big change. I think the difference before it is because black people are tired, just tired. You see it happening and other people act like it’s not happening. And when George Floyd actually died publicly, that’s when everybody saw and mostly white people was like, ‘Whoa, my goodness. I had no idea it was that bad.’ Black people have known it all the time.”   

Overall, racism has been with us since as long as anyone can remember. Having racism in the 2000s is still like what the hell because we as people know what it means and what happens to people of color—the police brutality and hate against us. If you don’t understand, you can research it and ask people what it means. 

Progress in stopping racism in the Cedar Valley has had a change from then and now, but not enough. There have been more people showing their support, which means a lot to people, but racism will never end until we have one hundred percent support.

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