As a general rule, I try to avoid posting about politics. I don't like having to deal with those who present their opinion as fact, most of my family members do not share my views (which is okay) and I find life much more peaceful when I can avoid confrontation via social media if at all possible. However, I will not and cannot in good conscience stay silent on this issue.
Innocent black men are being murdered in the streets simply because they are black. There is no other way to spin it. There is no question about it. It is an inarguable fact. In the two most recent prominent cases, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, black men have been targeted and murdered for their blackness by racist white men.
The prejudice, the inequality, and the injustice are obvious and disturbing. Just a few weeks ago, huge throngs of predominantly white people stormed public buildings with weapons, and were not tear gassed, chased, or even really chastised for their actions. In fact, the President called them "very good people." They were protesting their right to get a haircut in the midst of a pandemic that has taken more than 100,000 American lives. When George Floyd was murdered in the street, unarmed members of the Black Lives Matter movement weren't even given the chance to consider a peaceful protest, because almost immediately they were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets. Last night, the President called them "thugs" on Twitter. They were protesting the death of an innocent, unarmed black man.
The fact of the matter is, due process and fairness often does not exist for black people. If they are even suspected of something, they are detained. Even if they are in total compliance, as surveillance videos have revealed that George Floyd was, they are often treated violently. Whether they have committed a crime or not, in the eyes of some white people, existing as a black man is crime enough. White people simply are not treated this way. We are not shot or strangled in the streets for the color of our skin. We are innocent until proven guilty, whereas a black man is often considered guilty until he is proven innocent after his death.
White people are privileged, and we can no longer deny it. It took me a long time to understand and accept my privilege, but it is undoubtedly there. It exists in the fact that I have never even been looked at the wrong way by a police officer, and my black friends are watched by them as if they have already committed a crime anytime a police officer sees them in public. It exists in that my parents have never had to teach me how to act around cops or when being pulled over, because cops and being pulled over are no danger to me. It exists in the fact that, while people may judge me by my attractiveness or my clothes or my hair or my attitude, I have never and will never be judged or targeted for the color of my skin. No mom will ever tell her son that she doesn't want him dating me because I am white, but to this day I know people who "aren't allowed to date black guys." No parent will ever tell their child to stay away from me or look at me cross as I pass by them in public, but I have witnessed both of these things happen to black people. None of the things that happen to black people because they are black will ever happen to me because I am white. That is what privilege means.
Of course black people are angry. Of course they feel the need to storm the streets and destroy things and shout and scream and cry. (By the way, while looting is wrong and illegal, it in no way compares to the murder of an innocent man. If you're more upset about Target than about George Floyd, check your morals.) They have tried peaceful protesting for years, and it hasn't worked yet. They tried kneeling, and we shunned them for it. MLK led peaceful protests for years, and while he may have gotten rid of the obvious Jim Crowe laws, very little changed below the surface before he was assassinated. Black people are acting out of outrage, and boy do they deserve to be outraged. Their brothers and sisters are dying. Their children are being murdered. The same things that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and dozens of others like them wanted to change are still happening. They can't breathe, and no one is listening.
His name was George Floyd. He couldn't breathe. Say his name. Remember his story. Understand that this is not a one time incident, and that it will keep happening until we fight to change it. Understand that nothing will change if we stay silent.