Atatiana Jefferson. Samuel Dubose. Philando Castile. India Kager. Sandra Bland. Natasha McKenna. Eric Harris. Brendon Glen. Christopher Davis. Dominique Clayton. Willie Tilman. Freddie Blue. Eric Garner. Alteria Woods. Michael Brown. Pamela Turner. Botham Jean. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.
This has been an emotionally exhausting week as an African American-- to put things lightly. Most of us began our week continuing to find our footing in adjusting to the societal new normal of sheltering in place at home, though some states have lifted safer at home orders. I, just like everyone else, am helping pass the time by frequenting my favorite social media apps. I routinely scroll down my Instagram timeline, unaware of awaits me.
Anytime I encounter a viral video of several police officers and a single black man or woman, truthfully speaking, I do what I can to avoid the video. I close whatever app I am on and go to the next. Typically, I run into the video on the next social media platform, and out of fear of what I may witness, I put my phone down and try to focus my attention elsewhere altogether. The viral footage of George Floyd’s fatal arrest followed me across social media apps as some users were already engaged in uproarious discussions emotionally charged and reeling from what they had just viewed. I decided to get it over with and watch the footage.
I tried watching the video at length. I didn’t want to watch it again for any reason. Still, about a minute and a half into the video as I listened to him pleading with former officer Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe because of the knee on his neck, I decided that I could not and would not finish watching. Again, I cried hysterically for the lost life of a man that I had never met. My tears used to mourn his life just as I have for the others mentioned above. Each life lost, at the hands of those that took an oath to protect and serve. Not to protect and serve some, or whom they prefer, though the actions of police officers nationwide speak otherwise.
It was not necessary to finish watching to know what consequently resulted in the death of George Floyd. I am all too familiar with how this story ends, just as we all are as difficult as it is for some people to admit it.
I sat in silence after having wept for George. My emotions tore through me like a tornado in the Midwest. I went from feeling hurt and powerless, to emotionally devastated, to deeply, deeply saddened—lastly, my emotions plateaued at rage. I sat alone with my feelings; I experienced emotions that were seemingly shared by those who wear the same skin as I, and by some of those who do not. Rage being the most explicit feeling of them all.
Floyd’s fatal encounter with the Minneapolis PD has ignited protests all over the country. Many of these peaceful protests calling for arrests of the four officers involved in George’s death have turned violent. Police officers have met protesters with riot gear, teargas grenades, batons, and pepper spray. Some cities have experienced looting and rioting of nearby corporations and businesses, patrol cars set ablaze. Knowing such acts are not the best way to get the justice we so desperately seek -- I still feel nothing for these corporations whose businesses have looted and wiped clean. I feel nothing for the police officers that will stand for countless hours, maintaining the civil unrest.
Yet, I feel nothing for the patrol cars.
Why should I? Why should I displace my compassion and sympathy for those who have simply have none for my people? Why I should I feel anything for those that set metaphorical fires to our communities by senselessly and unnecessarily killing our men, women, and children leaving us to clean the mess left in the streets and pass the emotional baggage on down our lineage. The concern of government is on our reaction instead of the egregious murder of another black man. They are more concerned about the things burning, instead of why. Reminders of the non-violent approach practiced by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., conveniently float through their minds and out their mouths. Forgetting that the police also murdered him, and that violence indeed begets violence.