A coalition of Kansas City community members has come together to say, “Enough is enough.” Those who have stood up against racism and violence in our country inspire me, and I know that we will overcome the issues plaguing Kansas City together.
Neither Kansas City nor the United States are strangers to prejudice and discrimination, but I believe there is only one option: to make change together. We get through tough times taking advantage of our hard-fought rights to organize, protest, and demand action. Change happens when all the people rise up to do the hard work on the front lines themselves.
I represent several marginalized communities, including African American, Native American, Caucasian, Pacific Islander, and LGBTQ+ peoples. Racism comes in many forms – snide comments, veiled as political opinions, along with police brutality and racial profiling, just to name a few. I have to face these instances from someone crossing the street to avoid me out of fear, to someone outright using a racial slur when speaking to me. Navigating this landscape as a large black man is like walking through a field filled with landmines that you know could end your pursuit for a better life.
As an African American, I have always forced myself to never raise my voice to play into the stereotype of the “angry black man”, especially when speaking to white people. I always make sure to dress in a suit when I navigate my professional life because I am well aware that some will judge me based on how I look and profile me much more harshly than if I were not a person of color.
Every day I take a jog, even on a sunny day in the middle of the city, I fear for my life when doing so.
Considering recent racist attacks on people of color in this country, am I really that paranoid to think that I could be the next victim of an attack by those who were sworn to protect us, or by a random racist white man with a gun? My community and I face this reality every single day.
The reason why I work so hard to enact change in the community is to ensure that young African American men and women will not live in fear. So they can go on a jog without fear that they could be killed with no warning. So they can without being concerned about looking like “that black guy.”
I believe we need to build that coalition to include every American if we want to quash the racism in this country. Solving racism is going to take a variety of solutions, all within a variety of different contexts. Some will march. Some will organize. Some will run for office. All these actions, and so much more, will be needed to move our city and country forward.
As for me, I’m planning another rally to formally call for the defunding of the Kansas City Police Department. Seventy percent of the budget comes from the taxpayers of Kansas City. That money should better support investments in education, housing, food disparities, transportation, mental health resources, internet access, and so much more. And while I’m busy working for the community, I am exploring the possibility of running for office in the near future. I’m also asking you to take the pledge to vote this November. Even while we march and protest, we need to work toward a better future. That cannot happen until we put equality and fair-minded leaders in our cities, states, and nation.
I do this for the next generation of young Black Americans in hopes that my fellow Americans and I will quash racism in this country, so that never again will there be an innocent black man murdered in the street, yelling, “I can’t breathe! You’re going to kill me…Mama. Mama. Mama….”
Justice Horn is a community leader, public speaker, and social justice activist. Horn made history as the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s first openly gay multicultural student president. Before his time at UMKC, he broke barriers as the NCAA’s first openly gay multicultural college wrestler. Now in politics, Horn has committed himself to the community as a Social Justice Activist because of his work on climate justice, civil rights, Education, and LGBTQ+ rights.