Tracey McKee – August 11, 2022
The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, was a wake-up call for many across our nation, especially those of us who are white. Video footage shared on Facebook by Darnella Frazier allowed us to watch how Derek Chauvin unnecessarily pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over 8 excruciating minutes resulting in Floyd’s death. It was egregious, and the latest in a line of Black Americans killed at the hands of white police officers. From protests in the streets to corporate board rooms, people across the country united in demanding change.
Since Floyd’s death, some good things have happened. Police tactics have been more thoroughly scrutinized, and some 140 laws across the country have been passed promoting reformation. The public has demanded greater transparency when the police have killed people of color. Several shootings have resulted in officers’ convictions, firing, or resignations. Breonna Taylor was killed when police mistakenly raided her home (wrong address), resulting in lawmakers from 19 states passing legislation to ban no-knock raids.
Floyd’s death opened a nation-wide dialogue in our country that was long overdue; people who had never participated in the conversation about racial disparities in our country came to the table. Corporations and businesses made public statements in support of social justice for Black people and people of color while pledging $50 billion toward efforts to render change. Activism for social justice is expanding to include not only the business community but also more diverse, individual participants. Protests have been attended not only by Black people but Indigenous, Latino/Hispanic, Asian, and White people. And, awareness of disparities experienced by Indigenous, Latino/Hispanic, and Asian people has grown.
Still, there is much work to be done in addressing racial disparities. There is work ahead to tackle inequities in education, housing, and health care. Systemic racial injustice has prohibited many Black people and other people of color from building financial security and wealth. To attain economic prosperity, it is vital that access to higher education, better jobs, and resources be secured; this will not be easy because to bring about these changes, we must first increase recognition that accessibility to all of the areas mentioned above has been thwarted for people of color by policies and laws that benefit White people. As a White person, I can say that for most of my life, I was unaware that I benefited from a system that made things easier for me – a system constructed by racism and bias. What does this mean? Simply put, as a White person, I have never been prevented from doing something because of the color of my skin or had to work harder because of the color of my skin.
I wish we had a magic wand to right the situation racism has landed us in. Fortunately, because there is no wand, good people like Lucretia Berry, Bryon Stevenson, and Ibram Kendi, to name just a few, are leading the way to dismantle racism through education and advocacy. I certainly cannot pretend that I understand the experience of Black people or any people of color, but that does not mean I am helpless to make a difference. An open mind to consider things from a different perspective, a willingness to talk with people of color about their experiences, learning the full account of our nation’s history, joining advocacy groups are just a few small ways we can contribute to tearing down racism and the policies/laws/systems that support it. With courage and humility, we can dismantle this burden to humanity – racism. Let’s do this!