We have all known that a poisonous racism resides deeply in the DNA of the people of our country. But the event in Minneapolis on Tuesday brings in focus our sickness in the shockingly vivid video. We have always known that racism has led to insidious actions against non-whites, and especially African Americans, but also Hispanics and Asians as well, if in a less virulent form. We also know that most of the brutality has occurred behind closed doors, or in the darkness of night, or in jails and prisons. But the scene in Minneapolis defies analysis. In broad daylight on Tuesday, in full view of an audience, showing how far we have fallen into darkness and evil. It is hard to imagine what every African American must be feeling today.
The police officer who had his knee pressed on the neck of his victim, George Floyd, ignored Mr. Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe and did not respond to by-standers pleading for mercy. All the while, the officer assumed a posture of seeming boredom, and finally, the subject of the arrest indeed could not breathe.
What has the Minneapolis Police department come to? And this isn’t even Alabama. What have we as a people come to? This episode portrays a new intensity of racial hatred and a new level of white abuse that must bring a chill to us all. It is beyond comprehension that such open brutality could take place in broad daylight.
I have no proposal for what we might do about this. Perhaps if we all reflect on this event and its horror, we will agree together on some action. For the time being, I believe all we can do is to grieve for what we have become, and what has become of our fellow citizens who are not white.
There is a time to grieve and a time to act. Today we may need simply to grieve. But tomorrow we must take action. Otherwise, the forces of hatred and racism will consume us.
Raymond J. Lawrence
Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)