(Artwork courtesy of Nicholas Belton)
On Monday evening, May 25, 2020, 46-year-old George Floyd bought a pack of cigarettes at Cup Foods Deli in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter he was accused by deli employees of paying for those cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill and the police were called. 17 minutes after they arrived on the scene and arrested him, George was dead. He was murdered by Derek Chauvin, an officer with 18 previous complaints filed against him, while three other officers stood by and did nothing.
It took only 8 minutes and 46 seconds for Derek Chauvin to claim the life of this innocent man. To press his knee into his neck and cut off his air supply. To ignore him 16 times when he said he couldn’t breathe and begged for his life. To disregard the helpless cries of bystanders pleading with him to stop. To asphyxiate and kill him.
All because George was Black.
IT'S TIME TO GET UNCOMFORTABLE
I recount this story not for you. But for myself. Because writing those words is uncomfortable. Because reliving the video images of George’s lifeless body pinned under the knee of a police officer is uncomfortable. Because acknowledging and accepting that racism is as alive and well today as it ever was is uncomfortable. Because recognizing that I am a privileged white person who hasn’t fully done my part to be antiracist is uncomfortable.
And it’s well past time for the White community to get uncomfortable.
I’ve never considered myself racist. Despite growing up in the south where racial inequality and injustice were (and are) blatant, I was raised in a home where we weren’t taught to see color and where bigotry wasn’t tolerated in any way. I’ve always had black friends. I’ve championed equal rights. I’ve participated in protests and marches. I’ve spoken up and spoken out. I’ve empathized and loved. I’ve not discriminated. I’ve done all the things I thought you do when you’re not a racist person. But boy, have I had it all wrong. Not only have I failed to properly take stock of my white privilege, I’ve failed to understand that there’s no such thing as “not being racist.” You’re either racist or you’re antiracist. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been so incredibly unaware.
To my Black friends and to the Black community: I’m sorry.
And I will never understand. But this isn’t about me. It’s about change. It’s about taking it upon myself as a white person to educate myself. To stop talking and listen. To find ways to support the Black community in actions, not just in words. To speak up and speak out. It’s about taking responsibility and doing the work that needed to be done long before now.
I’m not in the position to tell anybody what to do – Lord knows I have enough listening and learning of my own to do and the last thing this world needs is another hypocrite. But I will not be white and silent. I pledge to do the work and to use my voice to fight this battle. And to do so for the long term. Not just in this moment when all eyes are on the issue, but when they are not. Because we can’t let the news cycle shift and George Floyd to become another distant memory as has happened over and over and over again.
Enough is enough.
HOW TO EDUCATE YOURSELF
For anyone looking for a place to start or for more resources to educate yourself, below is a list of articles I’ve read and videos I’ve watched in my own search for guidance thus far that I hope can be helpful to you as well. I’m also sharing the list of antiracist books I’ve started to compile based on recommendations from my Black friends and from Black activists and leaders, as well as links to antiracist organizations you can get involved with and donate to. I recognize that these lists are only scraping the surface, so please leave a comment or send me an email if you have recommendations to add. I welcome your input and would love for this to be a community effort, where we join forces and commit our efforts to the Black community in hopes of effecting real and lasting change.
The more voices, the louder the cry.
ARTICLES & VIDEOS OF NOTE:
By Larry Buchanan, Quoctrung Bui and Jugal K. Patel, New York Times
By Rachel Hartigan, National Geographic
By The Associated Press
By Patti Neighmond, NPR
By Brandon R. Byrd, World Politics Review
By Barack Obama, Medium
By Savala Trepczynski, Time
By Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic
By Showing Up For Racial Justice, Medium
By Peggy McIntosh
By Zoe Beaty
By Michele Norris, The Washington Post
By The New York Times Magazine
By Mary McNamara, LA Times
By Dana Brownlee, Forbes
By Dahleen Glanton, Chicago Tribune
By Georgia Aspinal, Grazia
By Alia Dastagir, USA Today
By Claire Lampen, The Cut
By Michael Crawford, Independent
By Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
By Jacqueline Howard, CNN
By Cut (@cut)
By Gary Chambers, Jr. (@garychambersjr)
By Danielle Prescod
By Shakera Jones (@BlackGirlsDineToo)
By Trevor Noah
By Ibram X. Kendi
By Dorothy Roberts
By Robin DiAngelo
By Khalil Gibran Muhammad
By Wesley Lowery
By Beverly Daniel Tatum
By Ijeoma Oluo
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
By Ibram X. Kendi
By Richard Rothstein
By Jonathan M. Metzl
By Layla F. Saad
By Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
By Peniel E. Joseph
By Angela Davis
By James Baldwin
By Tiffany Jewell
By Malcolm X and Alex Haley
By Michelle Alexander
WHERE TO GET INVOLVED & DONATE: