My rise to action for Black Lives Matters

Sharon J. King, Rio Grande Chapter activist

Someone asked my personal meaning of BLM (Black Lives Matters) and why I felt the need to engage in this movement. Thoughtfully, I did some soul-searching because I needed to profoundly and truthfully reflect on how this currently resonates with me not only in my mind, but also in my soul. This movement troubles me deeply because my roots stem from the deep south of Memphis. The deep south was the reason for my immediate departure as soon as I graduated college. Though raised in black segregated neighborhoods I found this normal for the most part, yet even in my early youth I felt a deep penetrating discourse that something was not right racially.

I was one of the fortunate African Americans to go to college, mainly because of my smarts and ability to accomplish whatever I invested my time and energy into. My schooling fell short of my white colleagues in my college courses, and I found I had to work harder, but I caught up. At the same time, I was also inspired by Angela Davis at this unchartered time in my life. Gradually I began to let my defenses down and mingled with several white students. I found that we had a few things in common. As we began to do things socially around the city, I discovered that many white establishments fought to keep us out and apart.

Needless to say, this did not sit well with me, and after graduation I was off to California where I found the freedom that I would not be denied. I no longer worried as much about racism, it was a place where I could be myself and raise my children freely and educate them for many years in diverse private schools.

Long story short, I sheltered us from racism as much as possible, and it had become a non-issue at least in my mind for a very long period in our lives. While we went on to live our lives through the years — here we are facing RACISM in America that never left. We, on the other hand, left it or became somewhat oblivious to it because it was fantastically easier. For many years there had been a deliberate disconnect for my daughters and myself on this subject. This saddens me deeply because as an older woman I am now learning about the degree of relentless inequalities, injustices, and killings of my black brothers and sisters.

The pandemic has shed so much light on America for many, and it illuminates how there is no liberty and justice for all, as the Constitution states. I am purposely here now to fight for what is right because black lives matter as well as all lives.

One of my daughters, Miya King-Flaherty, is an organizer with the Rio Grande Chapter. I am a volunteer, and together we are working to bridge those connections between racial and social justice and protecting our environment.

Anti-racism resources
As one of the largest climate and environmental-justice organizations, the Sierra Club recognizes the need to dismantle systemic racism in the United States and within our own organization. We can never forget that the roots of the climate crisis lie in racism, land theft and colonialism. As Hop Hopkins says in his excellent article in this month’s Sierra magazine (www.sierraclub.org/sierra/racism-killing-planet), “we will never survive the climate crisis without ending white supremacy.” Below are some resources, many geared toward environmentalists.

The Sierra Club Outdoor Activities team compiled a document with reading, and other resources for doing the work on ourselves and making the outdoors more equitable and safe for all

New Mexico black-owned food businesses

Make a donation to local organizations supporting justice and equity: Welstand Foundation, which works for health equity and underserved youth

Black Lives Matter Albuquerque

More comprehensive list of organizations to donate to, reading and ideas for action/education

Photo courtesy of Miya King-Flaherty.

My rise to action for Black Lives Matters