I’m running errands, knowing the memorial for George Floyd is happening. When I get back to my car, I hear the announcer’s voice ending and then silence. More silence. Then the announcer saying people are standing for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. Immediately I think, "That’s too long! If I were there I would have to sit down."
I can’t stand for long. When I was a little girl, everything around me turned black during long-standing portions of the Mass. Always I was saved by the congregation shifting positions before I fell in a faint.
The radio announcer comes on again and explains the silence is how long the cop’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck. Ohhh. Tears of sudden understanding fill my eyes as I drive on. The image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck returns—staying for a long time!
Other moments of sudden tears happened that weekend. At home I studied Chauvin’s face as he knelt on the neck of a Black man. No fear. Rather a look of victory. He looked secure in his impunity. The police federation would see to that. He’d already had at least 17 abuse citations with little consequence.
The Minnesota legislature and others around the country are finally moving on police reform—slowly. I know many whites are as affected as I. What can we do?
Blacks on Minnesota Public Radio inform us. I hear,
Live with the discomfort of being a privileged white.
Why are you glad you’re not Black?
Living with that question illuminates. If we’re not uncomfortable we are not doing it right.
In the National Catholic Reporter, Bryan Massingale writes,
It has never been easy to be black in America. Still, the past few months have pushed me to depths of outrage, pain and despondency that are unmatched in my 63 years of life. . .
Let's recall what Amy Cooper did. After a black man tells her to obey the posted signs that require her to leash her dog in a public park, she tells him she's going to call the police "and I'm going to tell them that there's an African American man threatening my life." . . .
Christian Cooper's camera records the events and shows that he made no threatening moves toward her, spoke to her calmly and without insult, and kept his distance from her the whole time. . . .
She knew what she was doing. And so do we. . . . What did she and rest of us know? . . .
She assumed that she would have the presumption of innocence.
She assumed that he, the black man, would have a presumption of guilt.
She assumed that the police would back her up.
She assumed that her race would be an advantage, that she would be believed because she is white. (By the way, this is what we mean by white privilege). . . .
She assumed that if he protested his innocence against her, he would be seen as "playing the race card." . . .
Massengill lists 15 more assumptions.
Weeks ago I wrote, “The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare grotesque inequities.” Now I hope the video lays bare the need for racial justice. And it seems to have been the knock-on-the-head needed. America is opening its eyes.
In my 35 years of polling, I’ve never seen opinion shift this fast or deeply. We are a different country today than just 30 days ago.