“Black power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny”
– Huey Newton
View this post on Instagram
I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota. The first is an email from a middle-aged African American businessman. “Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.” Another friend of mine used the powerful song that went viral from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant to describe the frustrations he was feeling. The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others. It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park. This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better. It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.
Over the weekend, the Forever First Lady spoke out in an Instagram post.
View this post on Instagram
Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith
People across the nation are bleeding in agony and pain. The lynching and demoralizing of Black people have gone on far too long. No one is better than the next person. Like former NBA player, Stephen Jackson stated in a Breakfast Club interview, “The only difference between me and Floyd was opportunity”.
And so it is with humans. Opportunity is the defining line. White people have an elemental privilege. That same privilege has given them more opportunities over Black people, historically. Because Europeans TOOK it and used Black people’s knowledge and hands, and labor to build this very country you slaughter us on. How dare you?
We all bleed the same. You don’t have that right. Nor will we EVER give it to you. We take it back. We demand it back. By force. And by any means necessary. We are here. And we aren’t going anywhere. Please, do not misunderstand. All white people aren’t racist and Black people aren’t criminals or dangerous. All cops are not bad.
I think that if we as a nation can grasp that philosophy things would become more clearer. Embracing that this universe is here for the entire HUMAN race.