By: Katherine Egan
On May 25, 2020, the same day as when Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, the piece “An Argument Against the Confederate Flag” was released on this blog. The piece was released before the creator of this blog or myself were aware of what had happened in Minneapolis, but after comparing the argument that the article posed to the blatant aggression spurred by racism; after listening to George Floyd beg for his life; after watching a police officer murder an innocent black man, the argument over the rights to fly a racist flag seems exceedingly trivial compared to the scale at which racism has managed to survive and infiltrate what are supposedly sacred positions of power in this country.
Now, I am not shocked, which makes me ashamed of myself, because that means I saw what happened to George Floyd coming, and only after his death am I fueled with anger and sadness to try and fight against a system that does not treat our citizens equally. I’m sure many other white allies feel the same way. We were allowed to forget about the threat of police brutality and racism, because it did not directly affect us; we must not make that mistake again. How many tragic deaths will it take for our government to understand that our society’s progress will not be achieved by “cordial” patience?
Over the past week I have tried to keep as up to date on the protests throughout America as possible. I have been supporting black creators on social media (not that that wasn’t something I didn’t do before all this, but now it is something I actively do anytime I log onto social media) by following their accounts, by liking and commenting on their content and sharing their perspectives on the police and racism in this country. Unfortunately, apps like TikTok shadow-ban many users who use #GeorgeFloyd or #Blacklivesmatter or sometimes it appears that creators are silenced simply for being black. I have heard their voices and I have seen their content; I have seen police kneel and march with peaceful protestors, then to be affronted when I swipe down and see a video of a police officer spraying teargas in a nine-year-old girl’s face.
I’ve seen police damage their own property and public property as well. I’ve watched as they have charged and beat protestors that are on their knees with their hands up. If the police really swore an oath to serve and protect, they would be targeting the looters and rioters who are disgracing the meaning behind these protests. What is the rest of society to do when the police prove to be just as dangerous, if not more, than the looters and rioters?
All of the tragedy, the pain, and suffering this past week, while significant and heartbreaking, is nothing compared to the hundreds of years this country has suppressed people of color. The system that this country runs on is not an equal one. As I said to my mother, when discussing the state in which America has found itself, is that an individual may not consider themselves racist, but that does not change the fact that the system that places people in power is.
On local levels, police departments continue to hire and empower hateful and dangerous individuals to uphold the law. Now, we could fix that by setting standards for police officers, but why hasn’t that been done yet? Because, the overall attitude the American government has had towards racist behavior is disgustingly cavalier. Racist individuals have been allowed their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly for years with little pushback from the United States government. Yet, the president calls the National Guard on protestors fighting for the right not to die at the hand of a corrupt cop. When the KKK is left to preach its rhetoric, but innocent civilians are punished for demanding equality then the mood I perceive from our Nation’s leaders about the importance of equality is dismal and uncaring.
This is not a political issue. For racism to run rampant throughout the government for so long takes the indifference of leaders from both parties. I can never recall a time when all facets of the U.S. government agreed to condemn racism. In fact, I do not believe there was ever a time when the U.S. government was genuine in its plights for equality.
Well, now the people are angrier and more empowered than I have ever seen them, and I am with them. If you are racist and reading this and do not believe that my words align with conservative, moderate, or liberal ideals then perhaps it is yourself that refuses to see this world as it really is. The matter of treating an individual with equality regardless of their skin color is not a political stance, it is simply what is expected of an ethical human being; it is the bare minimum of human decency.
Times are changing and you have the right to choose to live in a fantasy world of the oppressor and victim, but you will only suffer world-shattering consequences of your willful ignorance, for your reality will not withstand the powerful societal shift. You also have the right tochoose to evolve and to learn, if you haven’t already; there are no other options.
If you would like to show your support for George Floyd and his family and/or the protestors fighting for a better future the following links are just a few ways to show that you support equality and condemn systematic racism and the influence it has on our government.