La’nesha Mize, 26, of Gainesville had never protested until Saturday, May 30.
When she heard of Floyd’s death, she said emotions of helplessness and emptiness swept over her.
“I just felt like enough was enough, and I needed to stand up,” Mize said. “I wanted to come out and show people we (African Americans) are human too.”
By protesting in Gainesville, Mize said she wants to share the message that if people join together and stand with African Americans, then they can ultimately beat racism.
As a young black woman, Mize said she often faces racism when she least expects it.
Conversations on race
Today, The Times shares perspectives from those who have protested on Gainesville’s streets in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Those who would like to tell of their experiences can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with a reporter. Full names must be provided.
Recently, Mize said she visited a convenience store, and because she was in a hurry, she quickly strode inside. In the front of the line leading to the cash register, she noticed a white woman react.
“When she saw me walk in, she clutched her purse and grabbed her husband’s arm,” Mize recounted. “When I saw that, for one, I was puzzled. Because you don’t know me, you don’t know the type of person I am. You’ve just seen the color of my skin.”
For those who have never been judged by the color of their skin, she asks them to hold people who are overtly or covertly racist accountable.
“You know who’s racist,” she said. “If it’s your mom, your dad, your friends or whomever, it really starts in your inner circle. All lives can’t matter until black lives matter. It’s not that we’re being selfish. We’re speaking out for ourselves.”
Mize said she has witnessed some people who have joined the protests for the wrong reasons. She said it seems like some people are hanging out near the protesters because they have nothing better to do.
“You’re not getting the message across,” Mize said. “It’s only making the Black Lives Matter movement look horrible. People are already looking at us like we’re animals. We’re just tired.”