Violence was official as well as
individual… The torturers and punishments of civil…
justice customarily cut off hands and ears, racked, burned, flayed,
and pulled apart… people’s bodies… They passed
corpses hanging on the gibbet and decapitated heads and…
quartered bodies impaled on stakes on the city walls…
Accustomed in their own lives to… physical hardship and
injury, medieval men and women were not necessarily repelled by…
the spectacle of pain, but rather enjoyed it.
- Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century
in this world wouldn’t know what happened to George Floyd, a
Black man, who was a resident of Minneapolis on the fateful day he
left a grocery store and encounter a white police officer, Derek
Chauvin. To my knowledge, there are three videos of what happened,
but one, the third one, shows Floyd’s neck under Chauvin’s
knee for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This video went viral.
Not only did residents in Minneapolis protest but the world marched
to denounce violence, unnecessary and cold violence.
May 25, 2020, in the United States.
you stumbled upon this video, you’d ask yourself what did this
man George Floyd do to be so brutalized before all the world? Did he
separate babies and young children from their parents? Did he send
another country weapons of mass destruction to destroy the livelihood
of whole villages of people in Yemen? Maybe he thought that American
workers shouldn’t make at least 15 dollars an hour. Maybe he
just couldn’t see the necessity for equality and came charging
out of the store denouncing voters’ rights for people who look
like him. Who in his community needs such rights?
none of this was the case. A store clerk thought maybe Floyd was
passing a $20 counterfeit. Maybe?
focused his attention on Floyd.
much has happened since. But you don’t forget.
are going to kill me.”
is handcuffed and face down. But we see him, face pressed on the
ground. There’s the white police officer, massive, knee on
Floyd’s neck, hands in his pocket, comfortably looking at the
camera while killing George Floyd.
the state is wondering where in the world will they pull a jury in
the Chauvin trial, a jury, a group of people who haven’t viewed
the video or discussed the killing. For most humans with a heart, the
eight-minute, forty-six-second video is a mini horror film. Someone,
not an actor, is dying right before their eyes. Maybe many of those
who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, would have cheered
Chauvin on. But most Americans were horrified.
Blake is shot seven times by Kenosha Police officer Rusten Sheskey on
August 23, 2020. Blake managed to survive the assault but remains
paralyzed. And was Sheskey charged with seriously injury Blake, a
Black man? This is America, where democracy may have its proponents,
but it also has its enemies.
the year of COVID-19, Americans began reading the headlines and the
stats. More Blacks, Latinx, and other populations of color were prone
to succumbing to the virus. In the early days of the virus lockdown,
I remember living in a senior complex where the blood-hair, thirty-
or forty-something manager proudly announced she didn’t have to
wear a mask! Oh, no! More and more white Americans not only announced
their resistance to mask mandates but some also declared the COVID
virus a hoax. I heard this
year on a Kenosha radio
show that no one was dying from it!
was dying from it, because those disproportionately dying from it
were Black American!
how the covert narrative works in America. I say covert,
but actually, the spewing of raw hatred and indifference toward whole
segments of the population, segments historically enslaved, tortured,
terrorized, marginalized, and disenfranchised, has once again become
the way of doing business for a new crop of politicians such as Josh
Hawley and Ted Cruz, or propagandists such as Sean Hannity and Tucker
for law enforcement officers such as Derek Chauvin…
must it feel like to realize that all that violence once established
for a privileged race and class of Americans is in danger of coming
need to kneel on someone’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six
seconds to feel the restoration of that good ole’ violence. To
feel empowered by that violence once again!
now Derek Chauvin sits in court. His lawyers will present his case
before a jury of Americans. And in this culture, where violence of
all forms is the norm, another will be committed. Chauvin will return
to his “freedoms” at the end of the day.
could you not form an opinion about this case of murder if you see
any part of the video? What if George Floyd had been your son,
father, husband, brother, uncle?
America, despite all it’s seen and learned last year and this
year on January 6th, about itself and the way it treats a good
segment of its people, won’t reach out emphatically toward
Black America. I’d like to be surprised for once, but I’m
not holding my breath.
Floyd should be here. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Andre Hill -
they all should be here. They should be living their lives, watching
their behavior in order to maintain a healthy distance from COVID-19
for themselves and their families. They should be celebrating the
success of the vaccines and deciding how best to return their
children, nieces, nephews back to the classroom. They should be
anticipating the extension of unemployment benefits.
Floyd and so many Black Americans we’ve lost to state and
vigilante violence should be alive and well, but for the worship of
hate and violence in American culture. It’s not an accident
that in America, while Blacks have been dying from COVID-19 and
police violence, the state officials have been devising policies to
disenfranchise this same population.
it feels familiar, it is because it’s America’s response
to when Black people exercise their rights and proclaim freedom from
the tyranny of violence. We get a knee on our collective necks!
not hard to guess what needs to be dismantled - and the sooner the