A New Kind of Hope
Author: | July 30, 2020
The murder of George Floyd is not an isolated event. White men in positions of power have been killing Black men in this country for centuries. The difference now is that technological advances have shed light on how often these barbaric murders occur. Beyond that, the fact that this particular murder occurred while we were all isolated, quarantined, and socially distanced due to COVID-19 allowed for more eyes and attention to be on this event than likely would have been otherwise.
While we have your attention, let's continue the conversation by taking a little journey through history.
Racism is a universal American truth. The fact that this statement will make so many people uncomfortable is indicative of how much equity work has yet to be done. To start, we celebrate Columbus Day because he "discovered" America, even though he was implicit in the subsequent genocide of the people who were already living here. We refer to those who were already living here as Native Americans, but we still say it was the white man who "discovered" America. Something doesn't add up.
The forefathers of these United States were slave owners who declared that all men are created equal. We exalt them for their "idealistic" vision and foresight, even though it is obvious that they did not believe in these ideals, and, in fact, their actions demonstrated the very opposite.
The 13th amendment states: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Just as slaves were free labor for rich white men when slavery was legal, individuals who are convicted of crimes today are free labor for large corporations (which are primarily owned by rich white men). It is not a coincidence that prisons and jails in this country house such a ridiculously disproportionate number of Black men. Contrary to popular belief, the reason for this is not that Black men are more likely to be criminals. The reason for this is that America's justice systemassumes that Black men are guilty, instead of assuming innocence until proven otherwise (as is often the case for white people). This fact gives people like Amy Cooper the ammunition to weaponize the police against people of color, which ultimately perpetuates the problem.
It is also not a coincidence that, throughout the country, many of the zip codes associated with the lowest income levels have the highest number of people of color. The fact that so many Black people live in poverty is not because we are lazy or unintelligent. It is because we live in a country that is set up to keep us in the shackles that were forced upon our ancestors.
This is what is meant by systemic racism. As stated earlier, the foundation of this nation is built upon racist ideas. Racism and white supremacy are unfortunate, but very real, parts of America's legacy. And those ideas permeate through every fiber of this nation's fabric.
The murder of George Floyd occurring during COVID-19, and the riots and protests thereafter, have all created a momentum around issues of racism that I am pleasantly surprised to see. I wish it had not taken this long for people to understand how deep these wounds and systemic issues go. We have our work cut out for us. It may take decades. But I have a new kind of hope that some change may actually occur in the world that my children and their children will be raised in.