Is It Too Late to Say Something About George Floyd?
Curfews are over and the media is finally beginning to cover events besides George Floyd and coronavirus. The real effort to make real and sustainable change is in its infancy. Beyond the headlines and the demonstrations is the time for many of us to pull back from the frontline to reflect, self-examine and educate before making changes and going public with them. Systemic racism is not a news cycle issue—it’s a human rights issue. This is not something we can change easily or overnight. In Obama’s words, “This is a marathon, not a sprint “
How did we get here?
George Floyd’s Death: A World-Wide Catalyst
Most of us know the story by now … On May 25, 2020, George Floyd pleaded for release, gasping “I can’t breathe” as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and pinned Floyd to the ground for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—even past when Floyd lost consciousness—until Floyd died. George Floyd was a 46-year-old black man. Two other officers participated in pinning George Floyd down while a fourth officer stood by and watched, doing nothing to stop Floyd’s death. All four officers were white.
What made George Floyd’s death unusual? Nothing—and that’s exactly the point. He wasn’t rich, or famous or even well-connected. He was a black man going about his daily business whose death became more than another horrific statistic—it became a flashpoint about the importance of human life, that Black Lives Matter.
Black American’s Terrible Triumvirate
Most of us born with lighter skin take our privilege for granted, if we notice it at all. We tell ourselves we worked hard for what we’ve achieved. We don’t realize, or don’t want to admit that the deck is stacked in our favor, but it is.
How is life different for the majority of our darker-skinned brothers and sisters? This is their reality:
- Racial Profiling: unsafe on the street, disproportionate incarceration
- Compromised Healthcare: less access to health care, more pre-existing conditions
- Economic Inequality: continued generational poverty fueled by centuries of unjust policies and practices