It’s been three weeks since the murder of George Floyd and the world is reacting. The gut level response in a disaster is to do a plausibility check. Video after video showing collapsing buildings after 7.1 earthquake in 2017 in Mexico City were stunning. Yet there is an internal dialog, I live in New York, that can’t happen to me; it’s not a problem that concerns me. Earlier this year, COVID 19 shut down Italy, there were videos of Italians, not allowed to leave their homes, singing on the balconies. The internal dialog, that’s not the US, it’s not a problem that concerns me. Once COVID spread in the US, there was a realization that what happens to one is a warning of what can happen to all. The video of the murder of George Floyd was the tipping point exposing white privilege and a startling lack of humanity. The solace of safety “that can’t happen to me” shifted to the stark reality of “why is this happening to anybody?”
Heralding a breakthrough for the collective conscious of the world, an inhumane act that can’t be rationalized away. Yet, there is still a steady stream rationalization and denial. He was being arrested, he had a record it was ok. This was a staged event. The news has not focused on the hundreds of peaceful protests, but on the disruptive few with labels of rioting civil unrest and looting. Topics shied away from in polite conversation and spoken in guided and measured tones run rampant and wild and unfiltered in social media posts. Theories that would never have an audience are reposted, retweeted and go into wide circulation. Hurtful actions done by a small few keep getting reported tagged and circulated.
Introducing the “Black Purge.” While you may have never called us the “n” word to our face, we now see your “n” action on your posts. Making light of the death of another unarmed black man, calling African Americans animals, cartoons depicting planes spraying tear gas over protesters, stating support calling the protest acts of domestic terrorism. I painfully did an unfriended on Facebook two weeks ago, This was someone who owned a local bookstore, who shared my love of books, someone who introduced me to the world of ARCs. Over there years, there have been a few offensive posts. I was always heartened when white people would comment and push back. A few days after the protest began, as a photo of the protests with the words “Who’s tired of all of this Sh$%^, ” was posted. This is not political, one party versus another, this is humanity and dignity. Posts like that are unnecessary, cruel and painful. My community is struggling; we all have stories like this, many more extreme than my experience. As my brother said, “In the 60’s we knew where we stood. Now when I read people’s Facebook post, I don’t know these people, nor do I want to.” Between the two of us, he is the kinder, loving, peaceful, civic minded sibling and y’all broke him.
The US has over 400 years of systematic racism built on an infrastructure that considered my ancestors less than human; property to be sold, property to breed and the subsequent Jim Crows laws enforcing segregation and inequality. This is Friday is Juneteenth commemorating June 19, 1865 when General George Granger read general orders that slaves were free. This was two and half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves were free for more two years, but Texas “n” action did not inform, did not enforce, did give voice to the reality. During quarantine, many people have been cleaning, looking at things and following Marie Kondo, asking, does this bring me joy? This week, consider your “friends.” Do they bring you joy or do you need to purge?