It is amazing how a year can change us or the world as we know it to be.
One year ago today, George Floyd‘s life was taken by Derek Chauvin. Floyd could have been just another number, another causality of the police brutality against Americans of color. Instead, he became an icon and a match that would light the fire of protest against prejudice and hatred for people across the country and the world.
I wish that it did not have to be this way. Mr. Floyd did not have to die that day. But because he was a black man in America, Chauvin decided that he was both judge and juror.
May the memory of George Floyd forever be a blessing and a reminder of how powerful and pervasive racism can be.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Justice was served in the United States. Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
If am to be completely honest, I was holding my breath as I watched the news coverage. G-d only knows what would have happened had Chauvin been acquitted.
I can only hope that this case represents a change not just for the various law enforcement departments across this country, but for the country as a whole. If we are to reach the imagery and idealism that is the backbone of this nation, this verdict is an important step. The police can no longer target men and women of color without impunity.
Though this case cannot remove the stain of the past, it is a what we need to move forward. Perhaps the future is bright in this country after all.
One of racism’s side effects is that it makes everything more complicated. This includes the job of the police and law enforcement institutions.
On Sunday, Daunte Wright became the latest victim of police brutality against a person of color in the United States. The officer, who as of tonight has resigned from her job, claims that she meant to fire her taser and not her gun.
If this was a one off event and it was a honest mistake, the reaction would of course be completely different. But because Mr. Wright is not the first person and will sadly not be the last person of color to be killed by the police, it is just another reminder of how pervasive racism is in this country.
Adding salt to the wound is the location of the shooting. The murder of George Floyd and the trial against his accused killer, Derek Chauvin is not too far from where Daunte Wright took his last breath.
There has to be a line between protecting the public and randomly targeting people of color. That line has to be affirmed by both the public and those who work in law enforcement. When then the line is crossed, those involved should be punished.
The question is, where is the line and what will it take for us to do something about this problem?
Between Covid-19 and the protests against racial injustice this summer, I think it is safe to say that most places in the US are drained in every sense of the word.
Earlier this week, the DOJ (who are working for the President and not for the people) claimed that New York City is an “anarchist state“. The official statement is the following:
New York City is one of three places that “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities,” leading to its designation as an “anarchist jurisdiction,” the Justice Department said Monday.
I don’t how how they describe anarchy, but this is what I think of when someone says anarchy.
From my perspective, it looks like they think that protests against racism and racial injustice are the work of so-called “anarchists”. If that is the case, this country is in deep trouble. While there will always be crimes and the need for police, there is also the right to protest. If that is what they deem “anarchy”, I will take that over the autocratic police state that is the vision of the current administration.
Whether we know it or not, we often look to celebrities as examples of how to behave or not behave.
Since May, when George Floyd was murdered, protests have exploded all over the country. Across Hollywood and the sports world, celebrities have stepped up in the name of justice and equality.
With the shooting of Jacob Blake last weekend, America was again reminded that police still single out Americans of color. In response, several NBA teams have chosen to strike. Jared Kusher, sticking his nose in where it did not belong, claimed that they were “taking the night off“.
The full quote is as follows:
“The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially.”
While it is true that they will still earn their salaries, this strike is not about money. It is about racial inequity and violence that still exists in the United States. These players are using their platform to take a stand and send a message.
Not that Kushner or anyone around him would be able to understand that message.
When it comes to our children, we are taught that we should model the behavior that we want them to emulate.
If that is the case, then I wonder what the children of the Jacob Blake have learned. On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Blake, an unarmed African-American man, was shot by police. They shot him in front of his three children as they sat in the family car. The children are all under the age of ten.
As of yesterday, Mr. Blake was still in intensive care.
I have to wonder what message this sends not only to his children, but to everyone’s children? That people of color, especially African-American men and women, are automatically suspicious because of their skin color?
This summer has been one of upheaval, to say the least. Between the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, protests have been happening non stop. The message should be loud and clear. Law enforcement does not have the carte blanche right to arrest and kill simply because the assumed perpetrator has dark skin.
My prayer is two fold. The first half is that Mr. Blake wakes up and returns home as physically and emotionally whole as possible. The second half is that his children are do not grow up with the emotional scars that come with what they witnessed.
For some New York City residents of a certain age, their memories of the “bad old days” in the 1980’s are probably ones that they would prefer to forget.
Back then, I was a sheltered child, protected from the truth of the city. But now, as an adult, I understand why these memories are kept in the mental filling cabinet.
Recently, some have been saying that NYC is starting to return to the “bad old days”. Though Mayor Bill de Blasioinsists that we will not be back sliding into the past, the metrics state otherwise. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend alone, forty people were shot. Three of them were killed.
Before some of you jump on me, I need you hear me when I say that I am all for bail reform and police reform. If the city and the country is to move forward, we must address both ASAP. The last thing thing anyone wants is another Eric Garner or George Floyd case splashed across the headlines.
But I feel like there has to be a balance. The police and the justice system still need to be able to do their jobs.
I don’t claim to be an expert on these very touchy topics. I’m not and will make such a statement. But I am a proud NYC resident who cringes at the thought of my beloved city going back to an era which no one wants to revisit.
I don’t know what it will take to prevent us from rebooting the “bad old days” but with a 2020 twist. But I do know that something has to be done.
I wish today was an ordinary 4th of July. But as we all know, 2020 is not an ordinary year.
If nothing else, the protests following the murder of George Floyd and the issues created by Covid-19 has revealed the cracks in American society. If none of this was happening, it would be easy to ignore them. But one cannot ignore long standing issues if they are in your face 24/7.
We are at a precipice. We can either put our rose colored glasses on or we can finally start the process of becoming the nation that we could be. This is not the first time we have been at a crossroads. We can move forward as country. We can heal and accept that collectively, we have made mistakes. We only need to step up to the plate and learn from the past.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this weekend, have a happy and safe Independence Day.
The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one to begin with. But that is sometimes easier said than done.
The United States has had a problem called racism for 400 years. Politically and culturally, we have done some work to write the wrongs of the past. But that work is only a drop in the bucket compared to what has yet to be done.
It is nearly a month since George Floyd was murdered. Since then, Americans have protested his unnecessary death and the structural racism that is part of this country’s DNA.
Across the nation, there have been calls to remove statues and rename buildings that memorialize those who were responsible for the enslavement and subjugation of Americans of color. In my neck of the woods (aka New York City), the Teddy Roosevelt statue that greets visitors to the American Museum of Natural History will soon be non-existent.
Some say that this is going too far. There are other ways to redeem our past other than tearing down these monuments to history. If we take down statues of men like Robert E. Lee, we must take down statues of our Founding Fathers, who also owned slaves.
As Ticked Off Vic says, there is a difference between Robert E. Lee and our Founding Fathers. While these were men of their time, there is a marked difference between their actions. The fact is statues and images speak volumes in ways that words cannot touch. If we are to move forward as a country, we must face up to our past and take some of these statues down. If we don’t, we will never be able to move forward as a nation.
America is a country built on double standards. The basis of our cultural and legal ideals comes from need to be free as a person and a citizen. But America is also a country built on the backs of African-Americans. For most of our history, they have been used, degraded, de-humanized and denied the most basic of rights.
In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, the country has become mobilized to right the wrongs of the past.
Today is Juneteenth. I have to admit that up until recently, I had not heard of this day. Now that I know about it, I wish that it had part of the curriculum when I was in school.
Across the political and cultural spectrum, there have been calls to make Juneteenth a national holiday. In my home state of New York, it has been declared a state holiday.
After 400 years of servitude, it is about time we gave the African-American community their due. It’s time to demolish the economic, political, and social structures that have forced Americans of color into a permanent underclass. It’s time to live up to the ideals that the United States is built upon.
Only then will we no longer live with a double standard.