Black people have been murdered by police in America with little to no real justice served for the crimes committed. Seeing Mr. George Floyd’s murdered on video by the police was shocking. Despite vivid evidence, the uncertainty of justice for his murder triggered America into a state of trauma.
Mr. George Floyd would be killed in broad daylight at the hands of police that did not protect or serve his humanity at any point during their interaction. With a smile of pleasure, a policeman’s knee is forced on his neck and Mr. Floyd’s life would be over in 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
This was a clear act of violent racism that followed a pattern and practice of police brutality against black people in America. Many felt anger, fear and trauma. Despite clear evidence, there was a lack of action to prosecute those at fault. The city of Minneapolis erupted in protest and rioting. No major city in America has been free from police brutality against its citizens, and that very day, protests erupted across the country calling for justice for this senseless loss of life.
Racism at its core is violence because it allows a person to dismiss the humanity of another individual and deem them worthless of nothing humane. This is the core of the protests that have engulfed America. Will we continue to accept and condone inequality and racism within the justice system and society as a whole? A justice system that supports and tolerates any aspect of inequality must be dismantled. Tolerating such a system means we will continue to condone murderous behavior and that is unacceptable.
The roots of this trauma and behavior runs deep in America. This country was not built on equality, but it was built on severe inequality. Slavery made black people property and throughout our history there were forces that wanted to keep it that way. During the Civil War the Confederate opposition cornerstone platform stated, “that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
That statement was made over 159 years ago and the thoughts, actions, and the violence of those words still reverberate through American society today. This is the trauma that continues to besiege America. This is the trauma that ignited a nation in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s murder.
The vestiges of those violent words still ring true to some people today. Though that kind of racism and the political apparatus that supported such actions have waned, violence deeply rooted in that kind of racism continues to wreak havoc on the lives of black people today. The history of public lynchings, rapes, economic oppression, civil rights violations, and most importantly, the denial of justice for the murder of innocent black people remain a national disgrace.
Murder and physical violence are the end results of racism. The physical and mental abuse that is leveled upon black bodies daily is a norm in America. Being African-American, many people have asked me, “when have you experienced racism?” But that’s not the right question. It’s not the single incident that’s threatening. EVERYDAY I LIVE RACISM IS REAL. When I leave my home, I am constantly making sure that I keep everyone around me comfortable, because my emotions can have me killed. Black men have been killed for simply asking the police questions or for help.
For years (and the last few months) high profile killings of black people by police have been seen over and over with little change and little justice serviced. Why are we are not dismantling the root causes of this behavior? This kind of behavior should be denounced unequivocally and swiftly.
A smart leader and good citizens would denounce racism and fascist language because it is violent. A smart leader and good citizens would distance themselves from and show disdain for such policies, actions, and people. That distance is critical to black America, because it is the space between life and death.
The murder of Mr. Floyd and the trauma it caused also comes at the time when over 100,000 Americans have died from COVID19. A pandemic, which has elicited an unacceptable response from the national government has left thirty million Americans jobless.
The American President has become the embodiment of trauma and deliverer of strife. President Trump’s indecision on the issue of racism and fascism, attacks on immigrants, and his use of racist language and iconography give no distance or space between life and death. The fecklessness and supreme ignorance of his leadership has taken its toll on America.
What we are witnessing now is trauma at the confluence of anger, disbelief, and a President who is woefully unqualified to unify a nation at this moment. However, the American people see this moment and know that something must change to give all citizens the right to live life with justice and equality. The protests give hope for change and condemn the acts of murder and injustice that have become normalized. America is gorgeous, but she has been traumatized and needs therapeutic and systematic change.
The writer is the president & Global Policy Director of Parnassus Global Agency LLC