My Friend Wrote An Article About the Anniversary of George Floyd's Murder That I Want to Share With You
As you're likely aware, yesterday was the one year "anniversary" of George Floyd's murder. Before I get into the seriousness of this topic, this is still DOL and my brain will not let me move forward without addressing this. I've had this take long before George Floyd's untimely and unjust death, but I feel so weird/uncomfortable using the term anniversary for tragic/negative/catastrophic events. The dictionary definition of the word mentions nothing about tone simply "the date on which an event took place in a previous year" but I always associate (and believe many other people do too) the word with positive things like a relationships, graduations, key milestone, etc. I think we need a negative alternative to that word for negative situations. It's wild to me we use the same word to acknowledge weddings and natural disasters. With the 20th "anniversary" of the 9/11 attacks a few months away lets see if a linguistic can figure something out. I'm just the idea guy.
In over five years of blogging on DOL I've written hundreds, if not thousands of original pieces and reactions to the world around me, but I've never had the pleasure of responding to something someone I personally know wrote until today. Maybe pleasure isn't the right word given the circumstances, but my friend and high school advisory-mate Sapphire wrote this article on Linkedin yesterday about the one year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, her reactions and how this country has since responded. I want to share what she said with as many of my readers as I can.
via: Shapphire Reel's Linkedin
One year ago today, a girl lost her father. And now that girl will grow up with the constant reminder of his death as the world remembers George Floyd as a martyr rather than what he truly was—a man and father simply trying to exist in the world and provide for his family.
One year ago today, I watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered and saw my own father/uncle/cousin under Derek Chauvin’s knee. So many similarities—Black, almost bald men with a criminal past.
One year ago today, I was reminded that I have so much more to do with my own privilege. As someone who is white-passing but is Black, Native, and white, I can be in spaces and people “didn’t even know I was Black or Native”. I must speak out louder.
One year ago today, I was reminded of the times I was followed around in stores because I was not just white, but also Black and Native. I was reminded of the time a cop tried to ID me when I was 13 years old but didn’t try that with my white girlfriends. I was reminded of the time a cop told me “to go back to the Black town” a town over. I was reminded of the time a teacher told me “so your Dad’s the Black guy in town I always hear is causing trouble—for your sake, I hope you don’t cause me any trouble.” I was reminded that I've had countless encounters with authority and racism but walked away with my own life because my skin is light.
One year ago today, I, and many others of color, spilled our hearts and revisited our traumas in front of our entire company—begging for a serious conversation around race in the workplace.
One year ago today, many unwillingly and willingly had their eyes opened to the truth of what is going on in America.
One year later, ask yourself: seriously, how much has changed? To me, not much. This isn’t meant to be a slight on the work and progress that has been made. But I can tell you that I, someone who “looks white”, still encounter just as much subtle racism and pushback from oppressive supremacist structures as I ever have. I have faced more discrimination in the past year than in I have in my adult life due to speaking up for people who have been discriminated against. I have been told to “show up differently” because I am a proud, LOUD, and outspoken Black, Native, and White woman who will not hide the truth from anyone nor will I bend my own morals and authentic self in service of supremacy.
Why do I choose to share this on LinkedIn? Because this is what some of your coworkers of color are thinking today yet leaving unsaid. Because after a lifetime of constant attempts to educate in the face of more discrimination and adversity, we are tired.
And we need you to still pay attention and speak out. Performative statements from individuals and corporations on LinkedIn mean nothing. Words without ACTION mean nothing. We must all continue to strive to be better. Your Black coworkers need you. Your Asian and Pacific Islander coworkers need you. Your Native coworkers need you. Your Latino coworkers need you. Your coworkers who are Indian and are watching their country ravaged by COVID need you. Your trans, non-binary, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual coworkers need you. Your coworkers with disabilities need you. Your older coworkers need you. It really isn't that hard to show up, listen, and then go apply that in your own life.
Rest in Peace to the Eric Garners, Michael Browns, Tamir Rices, Freddie Grays, Sandra Blands, Philando Castiles, Botham Jeans, Atatiana Jeffersons, Breonna Taylors, Ahmaud Arberys, Daniel Prudes, George Floyds, and countless other names of the world. We thank you for what you’ve given, although you should have never had to. And I hope your loved ones find some solace.
All I want to do in my life is leave a positive legacy. I know am a flawed man, but I am trying to become a better and more understanding person every day.
Whenever I die in the next 36 hours to 75 years, I want people at my "celebration of life" to remember me as a good person who made people laugh and wanted to make life better and more enjoyable for as many people as possible. Of course, I can't speak for anybody other than me, but I know for a fact I am a better man than when the pandemic started.
It's unfair to put all racial issues in America on the shoulders of George Floyd, and Saph is 100% correct that he was a man and father simply trying to exist in the world and provide for his family. George Floyd is not Thích Quảng Đức. Unfortunately, he's just one man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and paid the ultimate price. So while it's "encouraging" to see the "positives" that have come out of this tragedy, it's vital to differentiate between a murder victim and a revolutionary.
George Floyd didn't wake up one day and decide to sacrifice his life for a cause. A crooked cop murdered him. A cop THAT FUCKING KNEW HIM. A cop who would've gotten away with it had it not been for cell phone footage. The police report said Floyd died as a result of a "medical incident during police interaction." We cannot forget these facts.
In death, George Floyd has represented what is entirely wrong with this country, but he is just one man. For every George Floyd whose death was broadcast for the world to see, countless others will never get the justice they deserve while their killers go to work every day.
I know cops have a difficult job, and I empathize with the hate they're dealing with; I truly do. I feel bad for the good cops out there trying to make a difference in the world, but there is an issue in the current state of policing in this country that has to be addressed. Whatever is going on is not protecting and serving. I think people just want a fair shake. You shouldn't have a gun drawn on you just because you say "ax" instead of ask. I understand cops have demanding jobs where they need to make difficult decisions instantly, but as the aggressors in the vast majority of these situations and the professionals, they should be held accountable when necessary. If a surgeon makes a mistake that ends in their patient's death, they can get sued and lose their job. Lawyers can get disbarred. All people want is accountability. Hold cops to the same standards as every other job on earth and I guarantee you we'll see less dead civilians. Qualified immunity has got to go. It shouldn't be controversial and or even "political" to say that. What if school bus drivers could get DUIs on the job and just keep driving? It blows my fucking mind that people are arguing that a knee restricting George Floyd's breathing for nine minutes and 29 seconds wasn't the cause of death. If we can't agree that it was unjustified and unequivocally wrong, what are we even doing trying to exist as a society? If someone throws an egg at the ground and it cracks, nobody says the egg cracked because it wasn't fertilized.
It bums me out that Saph feels like not much has changed since George Floyd's murder, but I can't say I'm surprised. Being woke was the flavor of the week, and a lot of people moved on. There was a lot of performative justice last June and the months that followed. Putting #BLM in your bio isn't going to change a thing if that's where you stop. I know I could do more, I want to do more, but one thing I have certainly done is change the way I act and think. I knew there were problems in this country before George Floyd, but it took his murder for me to truly get it and see the issues that POC have been begging us to pay attention to for generations. I was naive. I'm oversimplifying it, but that knee to his neck was the wake up call I and millions of others desperately needed. If seeing a man get choked out for nearly 10 minutes isn't going to change your mind and influence how you act and think from now on, nothing will.
I hate to admit that I used to be someone who didn't think white privilege was real and that if black people were just "respectful" to the police, nothing bad would happen. Over the last few years since leaving my privileged, almost exclusively white, rich, beach town, I have seen glimpses of how the world actually works, but I know I'm still super-sheltered to even harsher realities.
COVID has been the most eye-opening experience of my life. It's been miserable but necessary. I used to believe this was the greatest country on earth, but now I'm not so sure. There's potential, but not until we have systems that work for all, not just the super-rich, cis-gendered or white population.
I want black children not to have to deal with racism before they can tie their shoes. I want trans kids to be their authentic selves without ignorant bigots hiding behind a book using their "family values" to destroy their time on earth. I want women to get paid the same as men. I want non-binary people to be allowed to exist and be a part of society without being chastised. I want all people regardless of race or socioeconomic status to be able to vote without barriers. I want our schools to be allowed to teach the truth and without fear of a school shooting. I want all people to be able to exist without the fear of some lunatic blowing their brains out. I want justice for ALL.
A year and a day after George Floyd's murder, I know I can say I have improved as a human from the lessons I've learned from this tragedy. I have friends and family that have as well; unfortunately, I also have friends and family that have used this as an opportunity to double down on being a bigot.
Over this past year, I've listened, learned, and grown from this tragedy and the countless other senseless deaths that have come from law enforcement. Have you?
If you enjoyed this piece please check out some blogs I wrote last year:
-Where Do We Go From Here?
-This Michael Che Bit on Black Lives Matter is Relevant AF
-I Wish the Rooney Rule Didn't Need to Exist
-Some Telling Stats About The Future of the United States of America
Big thank you to Sapphire for sharing her experiences and allowing me to post her serious and important article on my sports-centered, shitty joke ridden, basically Mac DeMarco appreciation website. Listen, grow and try to be better than yesterday, we're not asking the world.