I am white. And much as I hate to admit it, the reality is that my skin color comes with white privilege as opposed to black or brown privilege. Until I have had to walk in black or brown skin, I will never understand how much I as white, take for granted in my daily living which is not granted to people of color. And until we as Americans come to terms and accept that we are not a colorblind society, that we are responsible for racism to still exists in America, we will remain contributors to the problems at hand, having lobbied and continue to lobby against humans simply on the basis of the color of their skin.
It is important for us as white Americans to understand that there is persistent injustice for people of color that runs from racial profiling to police violence to murder. In the U.S., 1(one) in 1000 black boys and men will be killed by police in their lifetime, while for white boys and men, the rate is 39 out of 100,000 according to a new study conducted by Frank Edwards, of Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice, Hedwig Lee, of Washington University in St. Louis’s Department of Sociology, and Michael Esposito, of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
We watch the murder of George Floyd, aghast that such a criminal act can happen while other officers look on. We watch events unfurl on our TV screens and newsfeeds; and as the protests turn into riots, we shake our heads, point fingers, and give our privileged explanations calling the rioters anarchists and losers, establishing that the rioters have little to do with the killing of George Floyd. Maybe so, and I absolutely do not condone rioting and looting, but we cannot ignore that the violence and destruction is a result of frustration built up over years of pent-up anger at a system that has for decades worked against them, telling them that they are less human and therefore inferior to the white race. And this racism they are fighting is still alive and well throughout our nation. This racism is what we should all be fighting.
I am often moved to hit the streets to peacefully protest against unequal policing, racism and the perceived devaluation of black American lives. I have participated in many marches against injustices, and inevitably, once among the massive crowds, there has always been and there will always be the individuals whose motives are difficult to discern and whose emotions are led not by intelligence but by committing vicious and heinous acts. Meanwhile we, as white America continue to ignore the real underlying problem of racial tensions that exist in our nation, and we dehumanize for their bad and violent decisions, the rioters and looters who know not how else to become “agents of change.” The true protesters want an end to racist police practices, an end to the criminalization of being black and an end to the killings. They want to be the agents of change.
Instead of tearing down these human beings who are acting out of sheer frustration through years of longstanding grievances, and who don’t know what else to do, we ought to be reaching out to help them regain the humanity they lost. We ought to be helping them exercise their right to voice their demands loudly to their government. We ought to be helping them in demanding better and constructive responses from the authorities, from the President, from the governors to the mayors to the police who have all cheapened black life with the systematic discrimination and brutality directed at black and brown people. And to add fuel to the fire, the officers in the majority of cases were not charged for their crimes. Here are just a handful of names of people who succumbed to deadly force used by police —Alton Sterling, Terence Crutcher, Stephon Clark, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless others.
Floyd’s name is now added to a long list of black men killed by cops. Floyd’s murder and the ensuing riots shed light on America’s broad racial divide, which, despite the strides made by the Civil Right’s movement of the ‘60 –shamefully still exists in this great country that claims to be and should be better than the rest. George Floyd is not an aberration; George Floyd is America. And we as Americans are accountable and must share that responsibility.