I’ve been trying to think of a way to articulate my thoughts on the recent tragedies that have occurred throughout our nation. The filmed brutal murder of George Floyd sparked nationwide outrage. As the nation watched his public execution, questions arose concerning the criminal justice system and racial discrimination.
Institutional racism plagues our country and has been for over 400 years. It isn’t new or foreign, but our society continually chooses to turn a blind eye to the disparities faced by people of color. Discriminatory policies and practices are embedded within America’s criminal justice, healthcare, education, and economic systems. Black people know this, and have had to deal with it for centuries.
The people who are supposed to protect and defend us are killing yet another black man. Why do we stand here and watch while human beings are being slaughtered right before our eyes?
When Amy Cooper purposefully used racism to target Christian Cooper just for being black, we watched. We watched as yet another white woman used her known privilege to intimidate and overpower a black man. Her calculating behavior showed the terrible realities the black community faces daily.
As their brothers and sisters were humiliated, attacked, and murdered, they tried to seek justice. Peaceful protests, calls to government officials, and cries for help weren’t enough. They knelt for the National anthem to call attention to police brutality; in return, the police knelt on their necks.
Questioning the effectiveness and legitimacy of the riots isn’t going to solve the problem. Instead, educate yourself on the history of racism in this country and consider taking steps to initiate sustainable change. Choosing colorblindness and ‘not seeing race’ is part of the problem, not the solution. As an ally, it is crucial to recognize racial disparities and to understand why race does matter.
The first step needed to initiate change is to start with some honest and uncomfortable self-reflection. Examine your knowledge on the topic before jumping to click ‘repost’. Educate yourself by doing a quick Google search, listening to stories of those whose lives are different from your own, or read an article that dives into the history of racism. Make it your priority to do the hard work; don’t put it on the black community to do that work for you.
Our current commander in chief uses racially charged statements to threaten the lives and assault the character of African American men and women routinely. Now more than ever, we need a leader who prioritizes ethics and ensures that all people are treated fairly and equally. If you aren’t able to protest or donate, the most powerful thing you can do with your voice is vote. Racism is and will continue to be lethal unless something is done about it.