On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African-American man, died in Powderhorn, a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, despite Floyd’s desperate plea’s “I can’t breathe”….until Floyd became unresponsive with 3 other officers passively standing by.
The incident was yet another horrific example of others that had perished before Floyd including the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling (Atlanta, Georgia), Trayvon Martin (Miami Gardens, Florida) and recently a young boy who was jogging, lynched and shot in broad daylight, Ahmaud Arbery (Glynn County, Georgia). Since the great work of Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1950’s the world has witnessed a frightening and very real increase in violent police-related fatalities amongst the black communities of North America. Ironically, these past few months as the U.S. was experiencing death rates of over 100,000 people due to COVID 19, the country was about to witness the outbreak of another disease called RACISM.
In response to the death of George Floyd, and decades of police violence against black communities, thousands of protesters have rallied in almost every state in the U.S. for the last 5 days and nights from Minneapolis to New York City. North of the border, systemic racism also exists as quiet yet pervasive undercurrents of verbal insults, exclusion and harrassment.
It is incumbent upon all Americans to pay attention to the movement that has captured the world just as it is the responsibility of ” white privilege” to reach out in peace to communities of colour towards ending systemic racism. As neighbors to the U.S., Canadians stand in solidarity against systemic racism, which exists in our country too. We cannot be passive bystanders to this disease any longer. We must open the dialogue within in our communities, our schools, with our children, with our colleagues, and our friends and families, creating opportunities to show our support and love to the Black and Indigenous communities of our nations whenever we can.
As in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. There is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy….Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Let’s get at it!
If not now, when?