Andrea McKinney, 34, was one of the organizers of the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in DeLand in July. A Palatka native, McKinney currently lives in DeLand, where she works as a horticulturist.
She co-founded the Facebook group DeLand Cares (Standing Against Injustice & Racism) to foster discussion about race locally. Nearly 2,000 people are members.
Q: The social-justice movement seemed to open up minds and start conversations. What has that been like?
A: We have experienced injustice our entire lives. This is our “norm.” Nothing about it has to be explained to us. We get it. All of it.
One would think that seeing others witness our daily experiences would be liberating. We should feel free and understood, because now they get it, right?!
Wrong. We don’t feel free. I’m grateful that everyone gets to see we weren’t making any of this up, but at the same time it’s insulting — insulting because it took a man dying under a knee to open eyes to what happens to us in every neighborhood, everywhere.
We don’t get to be heard out. We’re now seen, but not as equals. We don’t get justice. We don’t get equality.
Q: Where do we go now?
A: Well, after seeing the double standard (that we know all too well) play out right before our eyes at the nation’s Capitol the other day, it’s clear to everyone that our country is sicker than it has ever been. We can’t get out of a car without being a “threat,” yet other races can exude violence, vandalize and purposely fight the police — yet everyone walks away.
That is not OK!
Until you view my brown skin like you view their white skin, bridges won’t be made.
Q: What’s in our future?
A: Accountability. Don’t just look. Don’t just read. Examine yourself and those around you. If you cause a problem, it’s your job to fix it. When wrong is no longer tolerated, people will stop.
I saw a quote on social media that said “we aren’t asking you to shoot them like you shoot us. We are asking that you NOT shoot us, like you don’t shoot them.” That’s just one example of what equality looks like.
Q: Can you speak a bit about how you were inspired to be one of the organizers of the protest last year, and what is inspiring you this year?
A: I was inspired to take a stand because the opportunity presented itself. I had something to say, and I’m grateful someone wanted to hear it. Jamie Mathews and I linked up on social media, had a conversation, and the protest happened almost overnight. DeLand Cares was birthed in the process. That has been a wonderful experience.
I’ve had many reach out to me about getting into politics. That’s not who I am. I had to take a step back — from both sides. I faced unexpected backlash, and in order for me to keep my heart where it needs to be, I just support from the shadows.
You may not see me out front, but I’m still fighting, reaching and building.