George Floyd. Say his name. Perhaps he is the catalyst for change, the vessel, the light at the end of the tunnel, the one who set our world free from racism. Was this his mission in life? To rescue the world from the bondage of oppression. George Floyd was arrested by Minnesota police on May 25, 2020 over allegedly using a $20 counterfeit bill. During the arrest, one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, placed his knee on the neck of George with all of his body weight, for nearly nine minutes, ultimately resulting in George Floyd’s death.
I understand that most people in the world were shocked when they witnessed this video. How could you not be? This man dying in front of your very eyes. I am sure people were in disbelief, angry, and even shed tears however, I was just numb. I wasn’t sure how to react, perhaps because I knew after all, that the trauma against George Floyd wasn’t out of left field, it didn’t come out of nowhere..it’s just that it was filmed for the entire world to see. I had been following the Ahmaud Arbery case, mainly via CNN Tonight with Don Lemon as it is one of the few shows on television following cases of wrongdoing towards our black community. I was outraged at this case, it was something that happened a few months ago, February 23, 2020 to be exact. Ahmaud Arbery was shot by two white men jogging in a “white” neighbourhood. The narrative behind the case was making it seem as though Ahmaud was doing something wrong and thus deserved to be shot and killed. For instance, there was video surveillance of him wandering into a construction site on that street (it is said simply for a drink of water). However, other video surveillance surfaced of multiple people, other races and demographics also wandering into that same site but OF COURSE because a black man does it, it’s suspicious. This case bothered me in particular because it was a reminder that as a black person you are not free to walk wherever you want and enjoy fresh air…simply because of the colour of your skin. Or a black kid can’t wear a hoodie but it’s ok for a white kid or even a non-black kid to wear one? How ridiculous does this sound?
Does the media have a part to play in all of this? Let me answer this for you…ABSOLUTELY. I look at the Breonna Taylor case, she was an Emergency medical technician (EMT) in Kentucky when the Coronavirus Pandemic was gaining attention, some reports have said she was a future nurse. However, her case as just become popular recently. I am trying to figure out why with all of the attention that has unfolded on Healthcare professionals during this pandemic Breonna’s name wasn’t tied to many media outlets as a case to look further into. Would Breonna’s case have been discussed more if she were a white woman? I have been used to giving the benefit of the doubt to many instances in society both at home and abroad, saying no it ain’t so, it doesn’t always have to do with race…but time and time again especially through these videos I need to open my eyes and CALL IT LIKE IT IS. Maybe it’s due to my background of Faith. Faith that our world isn’t as cruel as it really is. When I saw that officer put that knee onto George Floyd’s neck, casually with one hand in his pocket, it hurt me as a black person because I couldn’t ignore the parallels to when Colin Kaepernick took a knee for the black movement. I wondered was Derek Chauvin trying to prove a further point by taking that ‘stance’?
Ironically, that same day Amy Cooper “Karen” called the cops on Christian Cooper a birdwatcher in Central Park, New York because he was calmly asking her to put a leash on her dog as per the rules listed in the area. As a result, Amy took advantage of her white privilege by threatening to call 911 because after all, we now know that 911 works better for some of us than others. This often proves that some white people pretend not to know about systemic racism, when really they do. She kept screaming that she was in Central park and that there was an African-American man who was threatening her and her dog even though Christian Cooper remained several feet away from her. Amy Cooper was even grabbing her dog, which to me kind of looked like she was trying to harm her dog so that when the cops arrived they would think that it was Christian Cooper that did this. To watch this whole ordeal play out on video was hurtful to me because this woman was trying to bury this man’s reputation; she knew the trouble that could have evolved from calling 911. The most frightening part of this is to know that the call she made could have possibly been used in the courts to justify the police officers actions if God forbid Christian Cooper ended up wrongfully killed by police. That call sounded like one of desperation when visually we could all see it was fake. I also could not help it that her repeated use of “Central Park” in her call reminded me of the disturbing case surrounding the renowned “Central Park Five”.
With all of the above, with all of the audio and videos that have surfaced and continue to surface…do I feel safe as a black woman in our present society? The answer is sadly, no. But I will look to my faith once again to see me through; as I pray that the current protests surrounding George Floyd’s death finally bring about lasting change. Black people have never said “Black Lives Matter MORE”…We just want to be equal.