Keenan Calvin

Keenan Calvin has lived in Boise for 20 years.

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Protests and riots have broken out across America after the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, and Boise resident Keenan Calvin has been watching the news nonstop.

“Maybe at this point some violence is necessary,” said Calvin. “People are dying from police brutality for protesting that the police brutality is getting out of hand, but passivity has never overcome violence in this country.”

Calvin sat down with Boise Weekly to talk about living in Boise and his thoughts on the temperature of the conversation surrounding race and police violence. He said as an African American living in a predominantly white state, he experiences racism on a daily basis.

BW: What do you think about the general state of racism in America today?

KC: I think if you look back at the history of America and how Africa plays a part in the growth of America, people can see why there’s so many issues. This country was built on the backs of slaves. They brought black people here against our will and took everything from us. That’s savage and violent. How would white Americans feel if another country came over and started enslaving them? It’s bad because so many people pretend it’s not even going on. I think black people are being pushed past their breaking point.

BW: There have been some protests here with more coming up. What do you think about what’s happened so far?

KC: It’s good that there’s been some, but it all starts at home. White people need to get graphic and explain the history to their kids to understand the meanings of oppression, genocide, police brutality and how to be a proper ally. Quit lying to your children about the history of black people. If you’re going to support and go to protests, know why you’re going and who you’re going for. It needs to start somewhere and white Americans need to stand up for all of the people in this nation.

BW: Many people say there isn’t racism in America anymore. What has your experience been with racism in Idaho?

KC: So I had a talk with my mom and we were talking about stereotypes and covert racism, and that happens more often than overt racism, but both forms still happen a lot. The white Idahoans here are so in their own bubble and don’t want to change, just like what’s happened with COVID and the economy but the world needs to change, it’s hurting so many people.

BW: What do you think can help?

KC: We need more people to get involved in leadership positions here that can promote equality and freedom so people can live comfortably and without violence, because as a black man we are just expected to live this way and it’s not the way anyone should have to live.

BW: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

KC: I’ve talked to white people here and they don’t understand why this is happening because they never got the whole story from the beginning. They think racism isn’t a thing because it doesn’t affect them and it never will until something like this happens. There’s times I’ve woken up and thought this could be the day that I get shot or profiled or arrested just because I’m black.

White people will never know what it’s like, but they can listen and try to understand and support the cause. And for all the people protesting, be careful and prepared. Even if you want peace there may be violence because police are violent and people are sick of it.

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