By Brandi Demers, The Houston Sun
Over the past weeks we have seen this nation rise up in outrage over the murder of George Floyd and countless others at the hands of law enforcement. From peaceful protests to destructive riots the people have done what they could to ensure that their voices will not go unheard this time.
In the wake of all of this turmoil, we see our leaders enact changes from proposing new legislation to taking down racist symbols from government buildings, in an effort to quell the unrest. With all that’s unfolding across the globe one has to ask, has the time finally come for America to acknowledge its wrongs against its black citizens and enact policies to dismantle the system of white supremacy?
If the history of this country teaches us as black citizens anything it is to doubt. To doubt the intentions of politicians, to doubt social and public services, to doubt healthcare providers, but most of all law enforcement. When the system around you was not designed to work for you, your presence becomes a crime. Black people have been fighting for decriminalization for so long. Why now?
Testifying before the house judiciary committee in a Wednesday morning hearing for a police reform bill, Sherrilyn Ifill, DirectorCounsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, spoke about how the nation has had reforms to address many other injustices against African Americans including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Yet there has been no legislation passed to protect black communities from the brutality they experience at the hands of police.
At George Floyd’s funeral Tuesday morning, Al Sharpton gave a passionate sermon where he addressed the importance of the impact Floyd’s death has had on the world.
“If you’d have had any idea that all of us would react, you’d have took your knee off his neck” Sharpton said addressing Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with Floyd’s death.
Sharpton suggested that the significance of Floyd’s death was that he was just regular man and could have been any of us. It was for that reason that Chauvin felt he had the authority to violate Floyd’s rights and ultimately take his life away, and for that same reason that the nation finally decided it had enough.
The most obvious difference we see with this movement is the overwhelming support from the media, corporations, and government officials, as well as non-black citizens. “All over the world I’ve seen the grandchildren of slave masters tearing down slave master’s statues,” Sharpton remarked in his sermon, speaking of statues of bigoted historic figures being forcibly removed by protestors.
Activist and young adult author Kimberly Jones, in a video which went viral early this week, shed some light on the sentiment of the demonstrators. She said the protesters are the vast majority of demonstrators who just want to get their voices heard. The rioters are the people who are angry and just want to retaliate by causing destruction. And the looters are opportunists who see the chaos as a way to access things they could not normally afford.
“As long as we’re focusing on what they’re doing, we’re not focusing on why they’re doing it.”
On every level, this movement is a direct result of the oppression and violence of the system in place and should not be seen as a threat to our democracy but a demand for its evolution.