We’ve all seen the video or the photo by now.
Eight minutes, 46 seconds.
That’s all it took for a man once full of life, whose lungs were once full of air and so much opportunity, to be killed on a dirty street in Minneapolis, crushed under the weight of a dirty cop’s knee and hundreds of years of systematic racism and oppression.
“I can’t breathe,” he said before calling out, “Mama, I love you!”
In front of witnesses pleading with officers, “He’s not responsive right now!”
Remember his name.
Demand justice for him, for everyone.
And do better.
Do better as an ally. Do better to combat racism.
Many of us willingly turn a blind eye to racial inequity and inequality every single day, but the killing of George Floyd has put the knee on our necks and caused us to take notice, to listen, collectively, for the first time in a very long time.
We’ve done a terrible job at listening thus far.
As white people we find it difficult to discuss racism, with each other, with people of color, with ourselves.
We don’t listen to understand, we listen to respond and defend ourselves.
Our feelings are at the forefront with little to no regard of the other person’s feelings.
We read and don’t comment because we don’t know how to put our feelings into words that will be received with their full intent considered.
Or, we read and don’t comment because we don’t want to trample on business and personal relationships because it’s so complicated a topic and there are very passionate arguments involved.
We don’t correct things because we’re trying to be polite or know it’s not worth the effort or fight.
We know a problem exists and we don’t act because we’re called names. Since working at this paper I have been called a [expletive]-lover, a race baiter, or told I’m pandering to the black community because I’ve told stories others don’t think are important or valuable to the tapestry that is the history of Tipton County.
We disagree that it’s even our problem to fix or fight because we’re not the ones being discriminated against.
And while we’re over here arguing, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are being killed. The cycle continues. Silence. Sentiments shared via memes. No action.
It’s starts with you, friends.
You want to share memes, change your profile picture to a black square, decry the use of the phrase All Lives Matter and that’s fine, but you also need to be productive about the follow-through.
What you do in the days, weeks, months and years that follow are more important than the virtue signaling.
There’s a man named “Willy C.” Farrow who often visited Covington meetings and spoke out against the condition of his neighborhood. He challenged the board of mayor and aldermen by saying, “Don’t just talk about it, be about it.”
And that’s my challenge to you: What are you doing to end the cycle of systematic racism? What are you doing to change the racism inside of you?
We can all play a part, even something like discouraging your friends from saying things they shouldn’t.
Be about it, friends. It’s long past time to act.