This is going to be the most difficult piece I’ve ever penned and it should be. . .
By now the whole world should have heard of George Floyd.
George Floyd was the forty-six year old African American whose life ended tragically on May 25th when Minneapolis police officers executed him in broad daylight in front of countless onlookers. The incident was caught on camera and has since gone viral on and off the internet.
Three of the four officers present that day knelt on Floyd’s body while they arrested him. One, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck, eventually leading to him passing out and dying.
Chauvin stayed in that position on Floyd’s neck for almost three additional minutes after Floyd went unconscious.
Massive protests have followed that public case of police brutality all across the globe.
Floyd’s death itself didn’t bring on all the protests that followed.
His death only served to light the fuse on the powder-keg that had been filling up for hundreds of years. Story after story of black men and women institutionally incarcerated, marginalized, and murdered have come to light time and time again.
Breonna Taylor was murdered two and a half months earlier by Louisville, Kentucky police. Plain clothes officers arrived at Taylor’s home in the middle of night in unmarked cars with a warrant for a house ten miles away. They shot the twenty-six year old EMT eight times.
Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was charged with assault and attempted murder after he defended their home from what he assumed was a home invasion. He sat in jail almost two weeks before the charges were dismissed.
Less than a month before Taylor’s killing, Ahmaud Arbery was lynched in Brunswick Georgia. His killers, which included a former police officer and district attorney investigator, were protected by local police for months before the state stepped in, eventually bringing charges against Arbery’s killers.
Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, and countless others died similarly before them. David McAtee is the most recent similar case. He was murdered by police and the National Guard in the same city Breonna Taylor was executed in.
I’m white. I’m also a non-practicing Jew. I come from an endless line of mixed inter-cultural relationships.
My daughter is mixed-race and my wife is of Native American and Haitian descent. My wife experiences discrimination and prejudice frequently as racists tell her things like “Go back to Mexico!”
Some of my oldest friends are people of color and I am part of a community comprised of many first generation Asians and Asian-Americans.
In addition to all these reasons I relate with the animosity and rage felt by the black community towards police departments and legislators across the U.S. I also have demons to contend with. Elder members of my family still use the N-word to describe African Americans. I have to reconcile this with my own nuclear family’s makeup as well as the threats and prejudices against me etched into my memory during my youth.
So what do I do about the injustices I witness everyday against Blacks, Asians, Mexicans, Muslims, and LGBTQs, as well as Jews like myself?
I hold myself accountable. I know must act and lead by example. I reflect on what I do and say in order to be as impactful as possible. Otherwise I have no hope of adjusting course when I make a mistake.
I learn. I read as much as I can about the oppression perpetrated against others who are different than me. I speak with people with diverse viewpoints and listen.
I encourage my family to not tolerate oppression and discrimination. I teach my daughter the realities of the world. She needs to understand that she cannot and should not always trust the police or community leaders. Her best interest and safety is not likely to be high enough on any of their priority lists.
I don’t sit idly by while my white family members discriminate against others because of the color of their skin or their nation of origin. I force them to choose between continuing to be racist a-holes and having a relationship with my family and I. If they cannot control themselves and their words, I cut them out of my life.
Lastly, I get involved. There are plenty of ways for me to engage and support those in need, particularly those who stand on the front-lines in harm’s way in order to end our country’s and the world’s tyranny and oppression.
I vote for progressive values and candidates. I donate to causes that support minorities as well as those that fight oppression. I share relevant content and important stories with others. I write and I speak out.
I believe in a better future, maybe not in my lifetime, but in my child’s. . .
And if not in her’s then in her children’s. . .
I believe racism is dying a slow death with today’s elderly, many of whom were still around for the end of segregation and the Civil Rights movement. But governments, police departments, and board rooms are still made up predominantly of whites that consider blacks and other minorities second class citizens who are less than.
I believe in the possibility of equality and equity for my generation and the ones after.
My heart is with George Floyd.
It’s with Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. It’s with Eric Garner and Sandra Bland and Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo. It’s with the protesters in Denver on their stomach’s chanting “I can’t breathe!” It’s with the Brits chanting “Black lives mattah!” way out there in London.
My heart is also with my Asian brothers and sisters who are relearning what discrimination and hatred feel like. It’s with the Mexican immigrants imprisoned without due process in the eight ICE detention centers across the U.S.
It’s with all the mothers and fathers left without children, and all the sons and daughters left without a parent.
This piece was written from a perspective of overt emotion. Anyone has their own right to argue, but the numbers speak volumes of hard truths.
African Americans make up twenty-four percent of those killed by police. They also make up thirty-three percent of the U.S. prison population. That’s six times the incarceration rate of whites.
They only account for thirteen percent of the population.
Police killed 1,099 people in 2019. African Americans are three times more likely to be those killed by police than whites. And ninety-nine percent of all police killings have not resulted in any of the officers involved being charged with any crime.
The same people who argue with my viewpoints, including members of my own family, tell us being black makes people more likely to commit crime. But can they explain the disparities in health care and wealth between the whites and blacks as well? “Members of racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive preventative health services and often receive lower-quality care” and the median wealth of white households in 2016 was $171,000 compared to $17,100 in African American households. That’s ten times more!
Finally some food for thought; only upper-income white families have grown wealthier since the 2007 recession.
I could continue ad nauseam with examples of societal inequity between African Americans and their Caucasian counterparts, including most recently how COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color, but by now readers either agree with my sentiments or they have tuned me out.
The irony, like in so much of what I’ve covered here, is how much all society would benefit if the inequities are addressed and corrected. But that’s not what the president, most of our federal representatives, and the predominantly-white wealthy among us desire. Yet, somehow people vote and support them against all of our collective self-interests anyhow.
I would love to see that lightly-colored plantation house in D.C. replaced with a monument to equality. Along with all the courthouses that try and convict exponentially more minority defendants. Along with the police stations that harbor and institutionalize racism and discrimination throughout the world. Along with all the prisons that profit from it all.
I can vote, and encourage others to do so as well. Just as I can act and react with equality and justice at the forefront of my thoughts.
I support the peaceful protests, as well as the violence against those who do not cease and desist oppression and violence against anyone. The constitution dictates that Americans should overthrow our government if we find ourselves under a tyrannical regime ever again. We have been in such since the first slave was whipped after the writing of that document.
We remain in that same state of tyranny today. . .
I stand for and with anyone who is against hatred, violence, and oppression. Because it’s still all too prevalent in our world today.
What we do and say and believe matters, so we should stand up and let our vision of a better and more equal future be heard loud and clear.
#BLM #BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #AhmaudArbery #Protest2020