It has been said that until one has walked a mile in another’s shoes, one can never truly understand the other person. But that does not mean that we can’t at least try to understand another person’s perspective.
We live in a country in which one’s skin color is one of the factors that determines one’s fate. We also live in a country in which unconscious bias and white privilege also play a role in determining one’s fate. As a Caucasian woman of Eastern European Jewish descent, I’ve never thought about the privilege automatically assigned to me because of my skin color. The last few weeks have made it painfully clear that because of a twist of fate, I have access and a perception that is denied to Americans of color.
Because I do not have the first person experience that a person of color has, I will not even try to speak of that experience. But Trevor Noah has that experience and it is heartbreaking.
I would say that I hope (which often springs eternal) that we, as Americans have finally learned our lesson about racism and racial inequality. But the last few weeks have reminded this nation, in a painful way, that both are still alive and well, even in 2020.
America is built on the ideals of freedom. But this ideal has a flaw. The flaw is called racism.
Like many problems, racism can only be solved we are able to look it in the eyes and admit that it is an issue. But after 400 years of built in prejudice against Americans of color, this problem may not be so simple to resolve.
On Monday, bird enthusiast Christian Cooper was walking through Central Park. He noticed that Amy Cooper had let her dog off the leash an in area in which dogs are required to remain on leash. Christian is African-American, Amy is Caucasian. Her response to his reminder of keeping her dog on the leash was to call the police.
After millions of views online, the video reached the eyes and ears of Amy’s bosses. She is no longer employed and she is known as a racist. Good luck to her on finding another job.
Also on Monday, in Minneapolis, George Floyd was arrested by police, accused of forgery. Instead of just taking him to the precinct and letting the justice system do it’s job, one of the officers put his knee on Floyd’s neck. After several minutes of complaining that he could not breath, Floyd took his last breath. The officers were fired for their actions. But firing is not enough. The officer who held Floyd down should be tried for murder.
The difference (as I see it) is how both cases were handled. Amy Cooper got what was coming to her. The officer who killed George Floyd has yet to receive what is coming to him.
May the memory of George Floyd be a blessing to those who knew and loved him. RIP.