In 2018, Childish Gambino released the song, “This is America”, along with a video that showed the terrors of living in America, and more importantly, being black in America. Throughout the video and the lyrics, Gambino takes listeners through a journey of symbolism as he portrays gun violence, protests and dancing. He also references police brutality, a topic that is still alive and wreaks havoc on the black community today.
On May 25, 2020, a man named George Floyd was falsely accused of forging a $20 bill—an absurd resort to violence over a small crime Floyd might’ve not even recognized—in Minnesota, and after the police were called, he was arrested and according to BBC News, “Mr Floyd was restrained by officers, while Mr. Chauvin placed his left knee between his head and neck. ‘I can't breathe,’ Mr. Floyd said repeatedly, pleading for his mother and begging ‘please, please, please’.”
“For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Mr Chauvin kept his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, the prosecutors' report says.”
A video of Floyd’s arrest reached the internet and caused outrage as the policeman, Derek Chauvin, was displaying extreme aggression on a compliant individual.
Sadly enough, Floyd’s name is not the first name to have reached the media. My first memory of police brutality was the shooting of a young man named Trayvon Martin. He was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman who shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place. Zimmerman was acquitted. It should’ve been then when white Americans saw and understood the systemic racism ingrained throughout this country—systemic racism that still persists to this day.
As someone who has never faced what black Americans face on a daily basis, such as constant fear of not coming home, I stand in solidarity with the protests that are happening around the U.S. right now, and around the world.
From a staff editorial, Technician states that not even a month ago “Hundreds of white American protesters stood in front of their state capitol buildings with automatic rifles, calling for their states to reopen, pushing and getting in the faces of police officers. However, the police officers did not resort to violence on these Americans.”
“White America protested over not being able to get a haircut. Black America being killed in the streets. White America was able to go home safely and untouched after their protests. Black America was met with tear gas and rubber bullets. ”
President Trump, even you should know that inciting violence amongst citizens won’t make your approval ratings any better. Especially not when you call people who disobeyed your orders very “good people” , while calling people who are fighting for their lives “thugs”. Americans protesting a pandemic, who were more often than not disrespecting the police, were given the best treatment compared to Americans fighting against police brutality. The sad reality is that if black Americans did the same thing that white Americans did, there would be pure outrage and mass deaths across the nation. The police fear an unarmed black man more than they fear an armed white man.
There has been a lot of chatter across social media; many people disagree with protests and don’t feel that this is the right way to get things done. Where is this energy when sports fans completely destroy a city after their team has won or lost a game? A good example of white fans rioting is what ensued after the Eagles won the Superbowl. According to Diversity Inc, fans stormed the streets and destroyed vast amounts of property, blocked traffic and climbed on traffic lights. When white individuals engage in these activities, they are referred to as parties that got out of hand, but when black individuals engage, it’s automatically deemed a riot. I ask you, what is the right way to get things done?
Throughout the history of the U.S., the only way that things have gotten done was through protests and rioting. Several examples include the Boston Tea Party, the Stonewall riots, the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma to Montgomery marches. Frankly, I think it would be un-American to not support these protests, as it is a First Amendment right to protest and petition. Fun fact, the Declaration of Independence states: “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government.” Our own Declaration of Independence was built to justify revolution in the face of injustice.
What is most important as of now is being supportive in this time of need. It is my place now, and many other Americans who aren’t black, to listen to black communities, creators and more. It is not the time to take over the conversation and devalue their struggles. It is time for those who have privilege to use it for strengthening the movement and educating others. I have seen a lot of celebrities that I follow use their platform and protest as well, and it makes me feel like I chose to support the right people. For example, Billie Eilish posted a lengthy Instagram story that denounced “All Lives Matter” by saying, "This is not about you," Eilish continued. "Stop making everything about you. You are not in need. You are not in danger."
Eilish provided another example, asking if a person's house was on fire and someone was trapped inside, "are you gonna make the fire department go to every other house on the block first because all houses matter??? No," she said, “because they don't f------ need it."
A huge way to start helping the movement is to sign the petitions, donate to the cause and bail funds and spread awareness. There are several ways to help the movement listed here. I also recommend reading more of the resources from Nubian Message, NC State’s black student newspaper.
I am deeply sorry to all individuals who have lost a loved one due to police brutality, and I especially send my condolences to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as the many others who have suffered injustices from the systematic racism of the police force in the U.S. You will not have died in vain, and justice will be served.