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George Floyd and the fight for racial justice

George Floyd (Image source: Instagram – @_stak5_)

After one of the most chaotic weeks in American history, I can say that I am extremely proud of Black people. The diligence, the resilience, the unity, and the overall outcry of support for the life of George Floyd has been so humbling, overwhelming, and satisfying to watch.

This step toward justice was the result of a perfect storm. With COVID-19, a good amount of the country being under shelter-in-place orders, and the states that have lifted orders, things aren’t completely back to normal. We’re facing the first pandemic in over 100 years, the country is on the brink of economic collapse, over 42.6 million Americans have lost their jobs, with 1.9 million filing for unemployment in the last week alone.

We have an incompetent, narcissistic, unsympathetic, shell of a man as our president, who incites violence by reusing the phrases of known racists while disingenuously using the name of George Floyd to make his case, declares war on social media platforms when they attempt to stop the spread of his misinformation, and tear gasses crowds of peaceful protesters for Bible photo-ops to further make his point.

Yet, even in the midst of all of this chaos, we witness another senseless killing at the hands of those who took an oath to protect and serve. The video was clear, and there wasn’t any room for interpretation. The officer was not “in fear for his life” — you know, the phrase we often hear to justify killings of unarmed Black men by trained police officers. But this time, the truth was uncomfortably clear to everyone: George Floyd was beaten, handcuffed and choked to death by Derek Chauvin with — ironically — his knee to George Floyd’s throat. It is not lost on Black America the symbolism this imagery represents in our daily experience as oppressed people in living in this country.

So we have a pandemic, shelter-in-place orders, a shrinking economy, unemployment rates that rival the great depression, an absence of normalcy, Trump and his twitter rants, and police brutality — all of this combined was a recipe for the chaotic events of the last week. That’s what made this time different — White America could no longer lie to themselves. For the first time (at least in my lifetime), White people were collectively forced to acknowledge the systemic issues 400 years of chattel slavery created for Black America or be called out for what they truly are.

This is a small step forward but I want to make sure the gravity of this moment is understood: this result is a testament to the power of our people and those who support us. We are much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for, and for the first time, I think the Black community is realizing this too.

Now that Floyd has been laid to rest and the officers have been charged, I want us to understand that this fight is not over — it’s just getting started. We must use this momentum to unify and continue to effect the change we know we need. Not just in our criminal justice system but throughout society. This time was different because we all felt it. It’s just unfortunate that we all didn’t feel it before. I extend my deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd and to the families of all the other unarmed Black men, women, and children who were abruptly snatched from them due America’s culture of deep-rooted, systemic police brutality.

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