Every social media platform we have has been flooded with posts honoring the movement known as "Black Lives Matter" since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin. Excessive force and police brutality against black individuals has been a wide spread issue in our country for years, but the video of Floyd pinned down by Chauvin's knee on his neck and his desperate cries of "I can't breathe," has sparked an anger and pain across America. Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter, but these charges do not seem sufficient enough to alleviate the pain black Americans have always faced in our country as a result of the systematic racism ingrained into the very way America functions.
Floyd's death is another unjustified murder of a black man at the hands of a white police officer, and he joins the thousands of other black people who have suffered as a result of our broken and inherently racist system of policing. Despite Corona, all across the country people have taken to the city streets to protest for justice and change. Many of these protests have been peaceful, and some have led to rioting and looting. Unsurprisingly, these riots seem to upset many white Americans more than the unnecessary death of another black man.
Personally, it is hard not to see this anger as justified. Throughout history people have abandoned peaceful protest when under extreme oppression, because when your voice is not being heard, there is nothing left to do but make people listen. In addition, many of the individuals causing the chaos are not the protestors, and simply rioters, often white rioters, who are taking advantage of the protests in order to incite violence and destruction. Regardless of who is responsible for what, the reaction to Floyd's death is the result of a culmination of pain, oppression and anger that can no longer be ignored in our country.
Of course I have noticed many people on Instagram who have never been overtly political posting about these issues as if Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter movement were simply a new Instagram trend. While I think it is incredible that so many people are participating in this movement, performative activism is useless when it comes to actually being an ally to black Americans. It is not enough to repost an Instagram story and think you have done your part. Committing to this movement means committing to behaviors that you might not get to flaunt on you social media account, such a contacting government officials, signing petitions, donating to the movement, educating yourself, attending protests, starting conversations with your friends and families, and checking those same people when they are overtly or subtly racist in their every day lives.
It is not enough to say we want change, we must do something about it. It is especially time that white America learns how to be a proper ally to black America.
Here are some places to donate, businesses to support, and a petition you can sign: