I have been a resident of Rio Rancho since October 2015. The United States Air Force brought me here. I was excited and hopeful to fulfill my last military assignment and live a “regular” life as a civilian. However, the death of George Floyd rocked me to my core, shook my Spirit, and woke me up from the slumber of believing that I was an equal human in America. I have been speaking out and protesting ever since another senseless loss of the black man for a trivial crime. I started the Black New Mexico Movement and we held our third protest here in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on Sept. 12.
I was surprised to be met by so much opposition within what is supposed to be, “my” community. The people who chose to protest against us were calling themselves “patriots” and it was appalling. When you look up the term “patriot”, Webster’s dictionary defines a patriot as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors”. I ask you, “Was my twenty years serving my country, not enough to be seen as a “patriot”? I must ask you was the time I served in Afghanistan getting shot at and bombed while being embedded with the Combined Explosive Exploitation Cell (CEXC) not enough for me to be seen as a patriot and to be apart of Rio Rancho? The 16-18 hour days I worked in Kuwait to send troops homes for emergency situations and rest and recuperation leave, was that not enough? Am I still not enough to be included in the fiber of America?
I heard someone say, “This is the part where Black Lives Matter gets stomped,” “I should hit them with a rock” and “Go back where you came from.” I heard people yelling “all lives matter.” I ask you, if all lives actually mattered, then why weren’t the anti-protesters on the side of the Black New Mexico Movement of Rio Rancho to show that my black life does indeed matter?
To be a Black person in America is to be in a constant state of survival. I asked one anti-protester, “Do you really think that Rio Rancho, New Mexico is an all-white city?” His face went blank and I could see that he was trying to process what I had just said. He seemed almost surprised at the thought that there might actually be minorities residing here in Rio Rancho.
There are reported to be 2.2 percent of Blacks in Rio Rancho and we will continue to fight to be acknowledged and to be heard. We will fight for sustained and effective change in this community until not only whites but also all minorities who work and support this city know and feel that they belong and that they are enough.
President, Black New Mexico Movement/Rio Rancho