A rigged system and 400 years of oppression have Maria Cribbs advocating for change, but a more personal reason brought her and her family to the protest in front of Cleveland’s Justice Center on May 30.
“I wanted to go there Saturday to show my children to stand up and be part of the movement,” says the co-host of the CW43 show Cribbs In The CLE, which she hosts with her husband and former Cleveland Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs. “You have to stick up for people and for your community.”
But protests are just the first steps, says Cribbs. Through her social media accounts, Cribbs is advocating for more voting, an education of black history that goes beyond just slavery in schools and a change of policies that protect police misconduct.
“We can’t take our foot off the gas,” she says. “Now that those officers are [charged for killing George Floyd], we have to keep that same energy going into voting and having policies be changed so we can make the community better.”
Here, Cribbs discusses how the protests are just the first step.
It started with Ahmaud Arbery. I started thinking back to when we had vagrancy laws (or “black codes”), where you would just get in trouble for being black in public. That’s really what happened to him. You’re out jogging, you don’t have a weapon, you weren’t committing a crime, and then you get lynched by some white dude? Then, a month later, George Floyd happened. It was like “Are you serious? Again?”
At first, [I felt] sadness. Then it turned to anger. You get pissed off. You feel powerless when you see the lives of black men being taken away by these officers and there’s no repercussions.
I have two children. So going to that protest this past weekend was something simple to show my kids, you know, don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself and don’t be afraid to get on the ground and get dirty if you need to. It’s just important that you speak up and do whatever you can.
We don’t know enough about the black community’s history. We have a very unique history. Unfortunately, that is intentionally left out of our education system. I think it’s left out on purpose to erase our contributions to this country. So then, when white people, or anyone other than blacks, see a black man get killed by a white officer, they feel no kind of way about it, you know? Because they’re not really valued in this society.
To be a part of the movement you have to stick up for people, your community. Nothing is going to happen by begging and pleading. Unfortunately, if no one is listening to you when you’re just peacefully kneeling like Colin Kaepernick was, then you have to take other measures.
It’s time to start changing laws and policies and watch who we put in office. So we’re talking about your congressmen, your councilmen, your representatives. The black community is always tied to the Democratic Party, and I don’t think that’s smart of us. Whoever is interested in talking about reparations, talking about prison reform, talking about social justice for blacks, that’s who we need to be listening to. At the end of the day, nothing is going to change unless policies change. We have to start pushing them to make policies that are going to change our community. It’s the whole system that we have to dismantle.
We’ve had a 400-year disadvantage in this country. We just want to be on an equal playing field. And I think what’s going on right now might get us a little closer to that. Is it going to repair everything? Absolutely not. This is a social construct that has been created over centuries. It’s not going to happen overnight. But if we just don’t let up, I believe that we can do something.