Breathing Means Freedom
Another week in America mourning a dead black citizen killed by police. in broad daylight. with bystanders. surrounded by cops who didn’t give a damn. This has to stop.
George Floyd fell unconscious after an officer kneeled on Floyd’s throat for over five minutes during his arrest in Minneapolis on Monday. Floyd later died at the hospital.
After two rage-filled and turbulent nights of protests in Minneapolis and around the country; Floyd’s pleas for air, captured in a horrifying video, seem synonymous with life in Trump’s America. We can’t breathe.
According to the mappingpoliceviolence.org website, in 2019, of the 1,099 people killed; 24% of the victims were African-American. Yet, blacks are only 13% of the U.S. population.
More troubling, our community is three times more likely to be shot down by the police than whites. Additionally, statistics show that we have a higher risk of being killed even when we are unarmed. (You don’t need statisticians to prove this, just watch the evening news.)
Granted, police brutality is nothing new. But with the election of Donald Trump in 2016, America’s racially-charged atmosphere seemed to make it easy for the police to ramp up their presence in the communities of color.
So, how did we get from there to here? It started with walls. From the start of Trump’s candidacy, the idea of building walls to limit Mexican and Muslim immigration, seemed to “choke” off Americans of color from the world —- little by little.
Black folks were already chafing under the steel boots of white supremacy, police oppression and voter suppression. As the Trump Administration gathered steam, it seemed to many of us that our freedom to “breathe” seemed more stilted, less expansive.
Then the coronavirus appeared and the lack of air is literal. The African-American community is bearing the brunt of the virus and the Trump Administration is in full spin. Despite the under counting of cases, most black folks know someone who is either ill or has died from the disease.
That said, the accompanying lock down is more severe for us. The economic impact is closing off our abilities to survive and thrive. The divisions in our society seem designed to keep us angry, afraid, and gasping for the sweet air of freedom —- physical, cultural, economic, and spiritual.
So, resist! Black folks need to protest the inequities that keep our communities in bondage to police violence. Insist on community policing and independent police department oversight during excessive force incidents. Hold local governments accountable.
Most importantly, exercise your right to vote. It’s on life support here and we need to vote in November so we can all breathe free. Remember George Floyd. He’s all of us.