George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, Elijah Mcclain, Dreasjon Reed, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown — and far too many additional black lives have been victims of police brutality and systematic racism.
Whether it's been a recent loss or former tragedy, the black community is fed up. It can be hard to differentiate people who want their rights from people who want revenge.
Arguably, most of the public´s recent anger derives from the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 on the streets of Minneapolis where now disgraced former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd´s neck for more than seven minutes. This was after Chauvin received a 911 call from a corner store reporting that Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit twenty dollar bill.
On June 10, Floyd’s younger brother, Philonise Floyd, went to the House Judiciary Committee with his sibling’s case.
¨George wasn't hurting anyone that day,” Floyd said. “He didn't deserve to die over $20. I´m asking you, is that what a black man is worth today? $20? This is 2020. Enough is enough.”
That did it. It didn't take long for Minnesota to respond.
On May 26, people marched various streets all over the state. Since then, people have held protests in all 50 states including Washington D.C. Though Floyd was black, people of all different races and origins, measured in thousands, have continued to protest his death.
They share one common goal — justice.
Floyd´s story, however, wasn't the only source of pain. With racism now once again a topic of discussion, names such as Breonna Taylor and Ahmad Arbery have quickly become catalysts for this issue as well.
Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky after police reportedly mistook her location and partook in a botched raid.
Arbery, 25, was unarmed and taking a jog in the Stallila Shores neighborhood in Georgia when approached by two white men, one of whom shot Arbery three times, leaving him to die.
The black community is mourning, but they are angry as well. Floyd´s family wanted peace, not destruction.
¨The family has called for peace,” Reverend Kevin Mccall, the organizer of Floyd´s memorial, said.
For some, however, peaceful is easier said than done.
Fighting for the rights of black people isn’t a new battle.
During the Black Power Movement, in 1966 The Black Panther Party was founded by two black men, Huey Newton and Bobby Seele. It was a revolutionary organization devoted to fighting for the rights of African Americans, especially against violence from police.
On March 28, just three days after the death of Floyd, riots broke out. Images and videos of looting and the burning of a Target store in Minneapolis quickly surfaced in news headlines.
This anger led to vandalism by rioters and the unauthorized removal of Confederate statues like Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, Maryland and President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia. Businesses have been broken into, and attacks on police property have also occurred.
I agree changes need to be made, but destruction is not the answer and should not be done in the name of any of these victims.
People have argued that systematic racism and mistreatment toward black people in our country is so prevalent that it doesn't matter if businesses are torn down because they never belonged to the minority businessperson in the first place.
For example, a video went viral of a black woman, Kimberly Jones, who further explained this belief comparing the economic circle for blacks to a game of Monopoly.
¨The game is fixed,” Jones said. “We can´t win. Nothing belongs to us. The social contract is broken. They are lucky what black people are looking for is equality, not revenge.¨
If black people held a vendetta for over 400 years of bondage to our ancestors, and mistreatment based on the color of our skin, it’s safe to assume the damage would be much worse.
We just want to be treated like humans, and public manslaughter is not humane. Using our voice to fight for our brother’s and sister’s must be normalized. We must Televise our protests and our pain.
Rioting in the name of the “Black lives Matter” does not bring the peace we so desperately want. We must find a better way. When we were younger, we were taught to know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. The uncalled for killing of black people is wrong, and it always has been.
Though the knee placed on Floyd’s neck was physical, there’s a metaphorical knee on the black community.
As a collective we can overcome.
“George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks,” Reverend Al Sharpton said on June 4 at Floyd’s memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“It’s time to stand up in George’s name and say, ‘get your knee off our necks’.”
Photo above provided by: Quinn Bonney